Nevada legislators seek to promote green energy
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – In an effort to increase Nevada’s ”green” power generation, legislators are weighing a bill to give tax breaks to products used in producing environmentally friendly energy.
”If we approve this bill, along with renewable portfolio incentives, I think we could jump start the renewable-energy industry quickly,” said Sen. Randolph Townsend, chairman of the committee that’s dealing with the energy crisis.
Under the current portfolio standard, the state must buy 1 percent of its energy from renewable-energy sources. Legislators are considering a bill that would increase that to 9 percent.
SB273, by Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, would exempt from state sales and use taxes any product used in renewable-energy generation such as wind, geothermal, solar and biomass.
The bill would save money both for large power-generation plants and do-it-yourselfers.
Under SB273, individuals who build their own energy generation systems, such as putting solar panels on their homes, would also only have to pay a 2 percent tax on needed supplies. The current sales tax ranges from 6.75 percent to 7.25 percent around the state.
Alternative energy advocate Marion Barritt said if the bill would have been law in 1997, she would have save hundreds of dollars on the small photovoltaic system that provides about half the electricity for her 1,500-square-foot home in Gardnerville.
Alan Caldwell, chairman of Independent Power Corp., said Nevada imports almost 95 percent of the fuel it uses to generate electricity, yet the state has abundant resources such as geothermal, wind and solar energy.
”We’re talking about energy systems where the fuel costs nothing,” he said, adding that projecting long-term fuel costs is easier.
Susan Reeder of Sierra Pacific Resources, the parent company of the state’s two major utilities, said Sierra supports the bill.
However, she pointed out that some power plants use only a small percentage of renewable energy. She suggested that the bill specify a percentage of such energy that the power plant would have to use before it’s exempt.
Dave Howard, public policy director of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, also said legislators should be careful how they write the bill. He suggested a clause that would allow legislators to repeal the tax-exempt status in the future.
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