Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009 | 2:12 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is confident that the clean energy economy will create tens of thousands of jobs, most of which will be long-term careers, she said today in Las Vegas.
Solis was in town to tour an NV Energy building before announcing $138 million in stimulus funds awarded to the utility.
NV Energy was one of 100 companies to receive a portion of $3.4 billion in stimulus funds directed toward smart grid investment. The utility will match the funds with $160 million to install smart meters and develop a smart grid in the state.
NV Energy CEO Michael Yackira said he expects installation of the smart meters to start late next year. He expects the company to hire about 200 workers to install the 1.45 million meters.
“Our project will enable our customers to have more control over their energy usage and provide real-time information on energy pricing and consumption,” he said. “This has the potential to provide dramatic change in the way we interact with our customers and the way we run our operations.”
The grant and the smart grid installation will have to be approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
During the tour, Solis was shown a dispatch center that monitors the Las Vegas Valley’s electrical grid, as well as a space where electricians and apprentices refurbish old electrical meters, and test digital and new smart meters.
“America can’t build a 21st century clean energy economy without a smart, strong and secure electricity delivery system,” Solis said following the tour. “It’s a good message to be able to tell homeowners and people, senior citizens and disabled, and young families, you know, there’s going to be a turnaround here shortly. We’re going to try to help you reduce your energy consumption, and the cost, so that you can continue to have a quality of life.”
Because workers will be needed to install not only the smart grid technology, but also renewable energy infrastructure throughout the U.S., she said her department is working closely with the Energy Department to get workers trained.
“(Smart metering) is going to create more jobs, better jobs, and hopefully incentivize other states that haven’t participated to get on the ball,” Solis said, adding that the $3.4 billion investment in smart grid technology is the largest of its kind in U.S. history. She said she expects to see job creation related to this investment as early as February.
All but one state, Alaska, will be receiving some portion of the $3.4 billion set aside by the Recovery Act.