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Attacks on green power lack vision

To the editor:

Your editorial of June 23, “Who could object to a ‘green’ power line?”, was so off the mark, I couldn’t let it go unchecked. Renewable energy can make Nevada and the nation more energy-independent and do that more affordably and sustainably than any other form of our energy. If we make the right choices, together we can create a world-class industry in Nevada that would bring thousands of good-paying jobs to our state, especially in rural communities.

But, without offering any real vision, your editors offer a position with which Nevadans are already all too familiar: more of the same. It’s more of the same policies that are causing hard times for working Nevadans, more of the same policies that keep us addicted to energy supplies from unstable foreign countries, and more of the same policies that are contributing to global warming. People need only to look at their power bill as we endure the next three months of sweltering temperatures over 100 degrees and ask, “Is the status quo working?” The obvious answer is no.

You wrote about building transmission lines for uses like “nuclear and coal-fired plants — the kind of uses that would actually make them profitable without increasing burdens on taxpayers.” But you conveniently overlooked the fact that the cost of coal has more than doubled over the past year and is projected to continue rising. Ask taxpayers if they feel burdened today by this outdated and short-sighted thinking, allowing dirty and unstable energy sources to drive our costs sky-high while they damage our environment.

Over the past 20 years, utility companies have drastically underinvested in building a more reliable and efficient power grid. Experts estimate it will cost $900 billion by 2030 to bring the grid up to speed. At the same time, they’ve failed to invest adequately in finding clean, safe and affordable alternatives to coal, nuclear and other old technologies to generate electricity.

Private companies that you say would need to “take the bait” of our stimulus for using “green” transmission lines are already here investing in solar, wind and geothermal technology. Many more want in because they know that “green” can also mean “profit.” A recent nonprofit study shows that 10 percent of America’s energy could be provided by solar power by 2025. That study also found that the active participation of utilities will be required to access that level of clean, renewable power.

My bill is designed to provide low-cost, long-term federal financing for power lines only if the majority of power generated at the end of that line is clean. It is an important step toward helping our economy and our environment through sustainable means.

So where should we be investing our money? In putting the dirty coal plants on life support at a cost of close to $1 trillion while we continue to suffer? No, we need to invest smartly — in delivering resources we hold in abundance in Nevada, where we can tap them over and over to meet our growing energy demands and create thousands of jobs for people in the areas of our state that need them the most.

It doesn’t make fiscal or environmental sense to invest in the tired, old technologies of the past century any longer. Responsible change is never easy, but your answer to our country’s most pressing energy and environmental problems seems to be status quo. And Nevadans can see how well that’s working.

Harry Reid

WASHINGTON, D.C.

The writer, a Nevada Democrat, is majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

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