Nevada has turned around its solar industry, led the nation in clean energy job growth in 2018

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Remember when Nevada randomly tried to kill its residential solar industry? Since then, Nevada has reversed course and been a clean energy policy leader. As the Nevada Legislature considers legislation to advance clean energy, including a bill for the state to get half of its energy from renewable sources, a new report shows the importance of clean energy to creating jobs and driving economic growth across the state.

According to the report from the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), more than 32,000 Nevadans across all 17 counties now work in clean energy. Last year. clean energy jobs grew by a remarkable 32 percent, adding more than 8,000 jobs statewide.

“By establishing innovative and forward-looking policies, we can keep these good clean energy jobs growing and create even more opportunities for all Nevadans,” said E2 member and Las Vegas energy sector attorney Curt Ledford, former chairman of the business group Clean Energy Project.

According to the E2 report, the biggest beneficiary of clean energy jobs was Storey County near Reno, home to Tesla’s Gigafactory battery plant. More than 8,100 Nevadans now work in clean energy in Storey County – giving it the highest density of clean energy jobs in the country, with 2,300 jobs per 1,000 employable residents.

The Clean Jobs Nevada report from E2 finds that the state’s clean energy jobs are split nearly evenly between three major sectors: Energy efficiency (11,000 jobs), solar (9,700) and energy storage (8,300). Nevada now ranks third among all U.S. for jobs in energy storage and sixth for solar energy.

“After some previous setbacks, we’re at an important crossroads for clean energy,” Ledford said. “Gov. Sisolak has made it clear it’s a priority. Now, we just need to make sure we continue moving in the right direction.”

Other highlights from the E2 report:

  • 77 percent of jobs are in the construction and manufacturing sectors
  • The Las Vegas Valley and Reno-Sparks metro areas account for 92 percent of Nevada’s clean jobs
  • Nearly 11,000 Nevadans work in renewable energy
  • Nevada’s 413 geothermal jobs rank in the top 10 nationally
  • Churchill, Douglas, and Lincoln counties all support more than 20 clean energy jobs per 1000 employable residents
  • 1,300 Nevadans work in non-sales positions involving hybrid and electric vehicles and clean fuels

State lawmakers have opportunities to pass several key policies in 2019 that would encourage clean energy businesses to expand and create more jobs. These include:

  • SB 358 would increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent by 2030, something Nevada voters already overwhelmingly demanded in the November election with Question 6;
  • Increase energy efficiency standards, saving consumers and businesses tens of millions of dollars in energy costs while simultaneously creating new jobs in HVAC, lighting and other energy efficiency companies;
  • Authorize electric vehicle infrastructure investments and encourage the sale of zero-emission vehicles through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust and with rebates and tax incentives.

“With simple, commonsense policies to advance renewables, energy efficiency and cleaner vehicles, Nevada can easily become a national leader in clean energy,” said E2 Mountain West advocate Susan Nedell.

— Solar Builder magazine

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