Opinion: Nevada is leading the way on clean energy investments

Clean Energy

Credit: Getty Images/Steve Proehl

By Devon Reese

April 18, 2024

Last month, the Department of Energy announced that Nevada Gold Mines will receive a $95 million grant to install solar power and battery storage at mines currently being powered by coal. This investment will remove an estimated 3.5 million tons of carbon emissions over the course of the project’s lifetime, while also creating 300 jobs.

This is just one recent example of President Biden’s clean energy plan, which is transforming our nation’s economy. In Nevada, that investment has translated to more than $12 billion in investment and 15,000 jobs announced—and that’s just in the past year and a half. Nationally, the clean energy plan has led to the creation of more than 270,000 jobs and $352 billion in investment. This is tremendous progress that more people should be talking about.

I’m a councilman here in Reno, a city already facing the impacts of extreme weather and climate change. In February, we experienced a powerful winter storm that left over 2,400 Washoe County residents without power. Reno is also one of the fastest-warming cities in the country. Las Vegas is another. Nevada residents are disproportionately burdened by high energy costs in the face of our rapidly warming planet. We have much to gain by increasing our reliance on clean energy, and much to lose if we don’t.

By investing in clean power like solar and wind, the Biden administration’s clean energy plan is helping drive down the cost of these technologies—all while creating new jobs and making our air safer to breathe and our water safer to drink. The costs of solar and wind power in Nevada are projected to drop by 22% and 35%, respectively, over the next 30 years.

According to a recent poll, more than half (59%) of Nevada voters support the clean energy plan after learning more about its policies. As of December 2023, Nevada has received over $1.4 billion in funding from the clean energy plan. By 2030, the clean energy plan is projected to bring over $2.7 billion of new investment in large-scale clean power generation and energy storage to our state.

As of 2021, there were already 32,000 clean energy workers in Nevada, a number that has continued to increase thanks to the efforts of the Biden administration. The Reno metropolitan area alone is home to more than 14,000 clean energy jobs.

You don’t have to look any further for an example of the Biden administration’s investments than right here in Washoe County. Since the passage of the clean energy plan, new clean energy projects have led to $7.1 billion in investments and 8,000 new jobs announced in Washoe County.

Last year, the Department of Energy announced a $2 billion loan commitment to Redwood Materials to build and expand a $3.5 billion battery materials campus in McCarran. The project will create 3,400 good-paying union construction jobs and employ approximately 1,600 full-time employees. In addition, Redwood Materials will rely on a construction workforce of union, minority, and/or woman-owned business enterprises.

RELATED: Biden administration announces $20 billion in clean energy grants

Thanks to the administration’s clean energy plan, construction spending for manufacturing has reached its highest level in 60 years. And new clean energy jobs tend to be good-paying jobs that you can raise a family on. Most of them don’t require a college degree, and they’re unionized at higher rates than the overall energy workforce.

Another example is Soulful Seeds, which received $1 million to further its mission of providing fresh, healthy foods to vulnerable members of the community. Soulful Seeds is a Reno-based community garden founded by Earstin Whitten, a retired insurance executive and army veteran, and Earstin’s wife Dee Schafer-Whitten, a retired healthcare and nonprofit executive.

An estimated nearly 15% of residents in Washoe County are food insecure. Soulful Seeds, which first started growing vegetables in 2017, aims to help move individuals from poverty to sustainability. The garden produces food for residents and local food pantries while also teaching people employable skills. Since its inception, Soulful Seeds has distributed more than 4,282 pounds of food, with 416 volunteers spending 1,798 hours in the garden.

The clean energy plan is bringing thousands of good-paying jobs and billions of dollars worth of investment to our state, a trend that’s only expected to grow—unless a new presidential administration comes to power in November and jeopardizes these hard-fought gains. It’s up to us to celebrate these wins so our state can continue to be a leader in clean energy.

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  • Devon Reese

    Devon Reese is a member of the Reno City Council representing the citywide “at-large” seat. He’s lived in Reno for 35 years.

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