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City played large role in state’s solar-industry growth

Nevada leads the nation in per capita growth of solar-industry jobs, according to a recent report from the nonprofit Solar Foundation.

The Silver State has added 3,500 jobs since the end of 2013, an increase of 146 percent from the year before, the report said.

The “report that Nevada has the fastest growing solar industry in the nation is proof that our hard work (in Nevada) to advance energy policies not only ends our addiction to fossil fuels, but also creates well-paying jobs and brings new, innovative industries to our state,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a statement.

Reid, a proponent of green energy, worked on the Energy Improvement and Extension and American Recovery and Reinvestment acts, which helped pave the way for more solar and geothermal projects in Nevada. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act extended a 30 percent tax credit by eight years for residential and commercial solar installations.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 helped Nevada get more than $550 million for a range of energy-efficient projects that have helped power the state. The act helped energize the One-Nevada Transmission Line in 2014, which connected renewable-energy sources in Northern and Southern Nevada for the first time.

Boulder City has been a key component to the emergence of Nevada’s success in the solar industry.

“Boulder City currently has over 8,000 acres of city-owned land under lease for solar development,” Financial Director Shirley Hughes said during a Jan. 13 City Council meeting.

There are five active facilities on those 8,000 acres and, according to the city’s financial plan, the city will reduce its debt by 65 percent during the next 10 years by committing a portion of the lease revenue to debt payments.

Boulder City is expecting to add $41.2 million to its general-fund revenue throughout the next five years, Hughes said. That number increases to $82.6 million through the next 10 years. By the time the solar leases are over in fiscal year 2069, total lease revenue is projected at more than $439 million.

Revenue from solar leases helped the city maintain its workforce during the worst economic decline in its history, Mayor Roger Tobler said during his final State of the City address Jan. 22. Boulder City renegotiated leases with Techren Solar and KOMIPO that allowed the city to recognize more than $10 million in deferred revenue, he added.

“In 2007, I could count the number of clean-energy projects in Nevada on one hand. Now, Nevada has over $6 billion in clean and renewable-energy investments, nearly 6,000 solar jobs and over 20,000 jobs in clean energy,” Reid said. “Nevada is quickly becoming a national leader in clean energy, but none of this happened by accident.”

The senator praised Boulder City for its involvement in green-energy projects. He said the city that built Hoover Dam has a long, rich legacy in clean-energy investment.

“Boulder City has continued this tradition of innovation in renewable energy with solar projects throughout (the area of) Railroad Pass that created hundreds of good-paying jobs and an important revenue source for Boulder City,” Reid told the Boulder City Review. “The commitment Boulder City has made to developing renewable-energy sources will continue to benefit Nevada as a whole just as much as it benefits its own city.”

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka.

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