With Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa poised this week to sign off on a historic cooperative renewable energy agreement the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians, you might think its powerful advocate Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would simply declare victory.
Reid championed the Moapa solar project and helped guided it through the bureaucratic and legislative process.
But Reid took time Wednesday to again beat on NV Energy for what he describes as the Nevada utility giant’s insensitivity toward the Moapa tribe and the renewable energy movement generally. Reid has been a consistent critic of the utility’s continued use of the coal-fired Reid Gardner Generating Station, a power plant in Moapa located near tribal land.
The Energizer Bunny doesn’t beat his bass drum as relentlessly as Reid pounds on NV Energy.
“This poor tribe has been beleaguered from its very beginning,” Reid said in a phone interview. “Now attorneys are looking at the litigation aspects of this because the power company has … burned more than 50 million tons of coal in the last 47 years. A lot of that bad stuff winds up on the Indian reservation, which is a couple football fields away (from Reid Gardner.)”
On Nov. 20, the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve a 25-year, $1.6 billion pact to purchase solar power from a company that has agreed to build approximately 1 million photovoltaic panels on 1,000 acres of tribal land. The K Road Power project already has been enthusiastically embraced by the Obama administration and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
K Road operates utility-scale renewable energy projects and has offices in New York City, San Francisco, and Shanghai and is partnered with Barclays Natural Resource Investments, a division of Barclays Capital.
California law mandates the state’s utilities generate increasing amounts of energy from renewable sources. Under current statute, the Department of Water and Power must generate 25 percent of its power by 2016 from solar, wind, or other renewables. That figure increases to 33 percent by 2020. At present, approximately 17 percent of the department’s energy comes from renewable resources.
Although the renewable energy debate has cost billions and gained big headlines during the Obama administration, it has actually been on the table in Nevada for more than a decade. In June, 2001, Gov. Kenny Guinn signed a bill (SB372) that required 15 percent of the energy generated in Nevada to come from renewable resources by 2013. The requirement was late raised to 20 percent by 2015. A list of loopholes and exceptions have hamstrung Nevada’s transition toward renewables, green energy advocates argue.
You can expect to hear Reid assess the renewable energy issue when he addresses the 2013 state Legislature.
“My opinion is, the Legislature should do something about it,” he said.
The solar project will create hundreds of construction jobs and a couple dozen permanent maintenance positions.
“The sad part is all this electricity is going to California while that Reid Gardner plant is still dumping out crap from burning coal,” Reid said. “This will be the first utility scale solar project on tribal land. … I would hope that NV Energy would see the light. Why should all that electricity be going to California?”
I’m guessing Reid will continue to pound on NV Energy until it sees the light. Or sees stars, whichever comes first.
Christmas charity: A mother and son and … socks
When Las Vegan Michelle Hill sent her son Zachary north to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, she hoped and prayed the charity’s rehabilitation component would help him beat his drug and alcohol addiction.
Three years later, Zachary has not only changed his life, but he now works as a counselor of the many homeless men who come to the door of the mission.
“It’s truly an amazing miracle place,” the proud mother says. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am, and how happy it makes me to see what it’s done for my son.”
Now that Zachary is back on his feet, he and his mom have entered into a little friendly competition. In the cold, wet Northwest, the mission is constantly running short of socks for all the hundreds of men, women, and children who access its services. So mother and son are working to see who can gather the most socks between now and the end of the year.
Although the socks will go to the Seattle mission, Michelle and Zachary hope the sock-raising effort has enough, well, legs to spread from the Northwest down to Reno and Las Vegas.
“I hope we can one day see it in all 50 states,” she says.
To help the Hills reach their goal and spread a little holiday cheer one pair of socks at a time, go to www.ugm.org. The mission also has its own Facebook page.
Two views of departed topless bar king Galardi
The late Jack Galardi, who died last Saturday at age 81 after a long illness, managed to make plenty of friends in his five decades in the topless bar business.
One was longtime Las Vegan Lou Cangey, whose brother Dick Cangey worked for Galardi at the Rusty Rooster in Long Beach, Calif. Lou also worked as a mechanic and handyman for Galardi.
“I’ve known Jack when he had nothing, when he was struggling to open up a bar,” Cangey recalls. “Over the years, he became a multimillionaire, but he never, ever changed. He was just the same person when he was broke as he when he had millions. He helped so many people it’s just unbelievable. He was just a one-of-a-kind person. He will be missed.”
Cangey recalled a running joke between his brother and Galardi. It went like this:
“Jack, I prayed to God for help. And he told me to see you.”
And, invariably, Galardi would render assistance to his friend.
Former North Las Vegas police detective Pat Dingle, however, remembers when Galardi opened the Golden Garter on Lake Mead Boulevard., a country-western bar that offered live music. Law enforcement was in the process of unsuccessfully trying to keep Galardi, a convicted felon, from gaining a foothold in the Southern Nevada market. Galardi, they believed, had shadowy associations and was only opening the North Las Vegas bar to set a licensing precedent before moving his business into the city of Las Vegas. It’s precisely what he did.
But not before Dingle arrested the band at the Golden Garter for failing to have valid sheriff’s work cards. The detective soon learned that Galardi already had some friends inside the North Las Vegas Police Department, and at the town’s city hall as well. The band members were soon back playing, and Galardi never missed a beat.