LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Democratic leadership in the Nevada Legislature said fostering a green energy economy during the 2021 legislative session could be one solution to the problems caused by Nevada's tourism and gaming heavy economy.
The current economic makeup of the state makes Nevada's budget particularly vulnerable to recessions like the one caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"You're going to see some additional conversation on how do we start to convert from a fossil fuel economy to a cleaner energy economy," said Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro.
She said to make a clean energy economy work in Nevada a ton of work needs to done beginning with statewide infrastructure projects.
Cannizzaro said there would be no reason to transition if technology like electric cars isn't a reasonable purchase.
"If you're talking about taking a drive from Las Vegas to Reno, or you're talking about taking a driving around the city, there is enough infrastructure for those electric vehicles to continue to operate," Cannizzaro said.
Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson agreed that building out the state's clean energy infrastructure would be a priority during the session, but cautioned against offering companies incentives like tax breaks to entice them to come here.
"Look, I don't know if we can afford to give incentives away," he said. "We're in a difficult time right now, but we have to work on improving our infrastructure in the state as a whole."
Republican Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer said providing incentives to private green companies wouldn't be his first move either, and added that he would be hesitant to fund any large scale renewable energy project that hadn't been proven to work.
Settelmeyer said the legislature's main role should be to allow the free market to thrive without regulation.
"We've had discussions in that building about the color of solar panels," he said. "Some homeowners associations have said they have to be terra cotta."
Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus also urged caution on funding green projects, but seemed more optimistic about the potential of wind and solar energy jobs than her Republican colleague.
In addition, Titus said she was eyeing the potential of another energy source that could be better for Nevada than all the others.
"We have another great source, geothermal," she said. "That hasn't been mentioned much, but we have a tremendous geothermal access here, and absolutely all of that put together is a good option for Nevada."