Gibbons asks legislators for renewable energy tax help

CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons urged legislators today to approve tax abatements to attract renewable energy projects that would help make Nevada energy independent by 2020.

Gibbons said Arizona and New Mexico already offer “aggressive tax incentives” to recruit renewable energy companies and it is “imperative to keep Nevada competitive.” He said Nevadans now pay $2 billion a year on energy imported from out of state.

Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, questioned whether Nevada would be “giving away the farm and getting nothing in return" by giving tax breaks to energy companies.

Schneider chairs the Senate Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, which Gibbons urged to adopt his Senate Bill 395 energy plan.

The senator said he was concerned that solar, geothermal and wind companies would build facilities with  the assistance of state tax breaks and then export their energy to other states.

“That is where we are having problems,” said Schneider, noting that surrounding states have business profits taxes that Nevada lacks. “We help them build their plants and we are left with eight permanent workers.”

Earlier in the legislative session, Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-north Las Vegas, criticized Sempra, which built a solar plant in Boulder City with the help of  $1.8 million in state tax breaks and ended up hiring only one permanent full-time worker. A Sempra official said that was all it takes to run its El Dorado Energy solar facility.

Another energy, which will be heard Wednesday in the Assembly, would levy taxes on power that renewable energy companies sell to other states.

Gibbons, however, said levying corporate taxes is the “wrong approach.”

He said Nevada needs to return to its “One Solid State” philosophy of the 1930s when the state advertised its lack of taxes to attract businesses.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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