President Barack Obama and Nevada’s U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, two of the most powerful Democrats in the nation, are playing key roles in the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas on Monday.
The president will be the keynote speaker at the eighth annual summit, held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
The event will focus on the public-private partnerships for clean energy and investments needed to modernize the electric grid infrastructure beyond its reliance on fossil fuels.
Reid on Friday released a report on the state of clean energy in the Silver State in advance of the summit. He is a big backer of renewable energy, as his report shows.
Among the benefits and accomplishments of Nevada that Reid’s report notes: the creation of 21,800 jobs; the state led the nation in the creation of clean-energy jobs in the third quarter of 2014; the state leads the nation in installed geothermal and solar energy capacity on a per-person basis; and the counties have reaped $22 million in geothermal royalties.
“It will be very educational for everyone,” Reid said in a phone interview. “Theses are issues that are important to the nation.”
Challenges remain, particularly for the future of the rooftop solar energy industry in Nevada. The state on Thursday hit a 235-megawatt cap for net metering, which gives rooftop solar customers a credit for their excess electricity generated and delivered to the utility. NV Energy has proposed a new rate structure that the The Alliance for Solar Choice says would devastate the industry.
Reid said the rooftop solar industry should continue to work with the administration of Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Public Utilities Commission on the issue.
He also noted that opportunities for growth remain, even though the state is leading in areas such as geothermal energy.
“We should continue to work on that,” Reid said, adding that the state hasn’t done as much yet on wind energy.
Reid also took aim at the billionaire Koch brothers, who give millions of dollars to conservative and Republican causes, saying their work discourages policies that aid renewable energy.
“They’re pushing Republicans to not support anything to do with renewable energy and Republicans are beholden to their money,” Reid said. “They are doing nothing.”
Other summit speakers will include Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz; Diarmuid O’Connell, vice president of business development at Tesla Motors; and John Podesta, a former counselor to Obama.
The program also includes a panel and debate about the future of the rooftop solar industry; a look at “trend-setting investments in clean energy”; solutions for the power grid infrastructure; and state and federal policies regarding clean energy.
The summit is open to anyone interested in clean energy and is focused on discussions of policies and renewable energy topics.
A variety of educational and advocacy organizations are working with Nevada’s senior senator on the summit. Along with Reid, the summit is co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International and UNLV.
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Summit road alert
Traffic will be affected by President Barack Obama’s visit to the National Clean Energy Summit at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on Monday.
McCarran International Airport routinely closes the airport tunnel during the takeoff and landing of Air Force One and police officials conduct rolling road and highway closures along the route of the presidential motorcade. After arriving at McCarran, the president is expected to be transported to Mandalay Bay for the summit.
After that, he will travel to an unknown Henderson residence for an event and then to Lake Las Vegas where he will spend the night.
Obama is scheduled to return to the airport Tuesday morning.
The White House routinely does not disclose the route or precise times the president uses because of security concerns.
Street closures and restrictions for the president’s visit will be compounded by other situations. The airport tunnel access to the 215 Beltway already has lane restrictions for a road construction project.
And, traffic is likely to be a little greater in the area Monday afternoon because it’s the first day of classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, just north of the airport.
Obama’s Tuesday departure also might affect students going to classes Tuesday morning.
— Rick Velotta
If you go:
For more information about Monday’s National Clean Energy Summit, visit http://www.cleanenergysummit.org/.
Registration will be available online until Sunday evening. Tickets at the site can also be purchased Monday on site.
Registration is $250 a person, or $50 for a student, and includes a luncheon.