Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008 | 5:50 p.m.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid laid out plans to stimulate the national renewable energy industry during the opening of this week's Renewable Energy World Conference in Las Vegas.
Reid's told hundreds of industry professionals that his goals include: allowing consumers to choose to buy green power and install solar power in their homes and businesses at a fair cost; making public lands available for renewable energy development; encouraging utilities to invest by providing tax incentives; and building a smart power grid that would charge electric vehicles.
During an interview with the Sun Tuesday, the Nevada Democrat said renewable energy development would not only help meet Nevada's growing power needs, but also create jobs in the state.
"That's why the power company focusing on this coal thing is so shortsighted," Reid said, referring to the plan by Nevada Power's parent company, Sierra Pacific Resources, to plan to build new coal-fired plants in the state.
"There are more jobs to be created in the green field than in the old standard fields," said Reid, adding that the coal industry passes out fliers wherever he goes pointing out the senator's opposition to coal and accusing him of wanting to raise utility rates. "But actually, it's just the opposite."
He accused the coal industry of using "the old Hitler lie — when you say things long enough people start believing them."
The comparison of the coal industry to Nazis came before his keynote speech, which began and ended with references to "the Jewish sages of yesteryear."
Reid also said that because more than 85 percent of land in Nevada is controlled by the federal government the state could play an important role in the country's renewable energy future if the process of locating clean energy plants on federal land is streamlined.
He said the first fight, though, is to get one more Republican senator to support the renewal of federal tax credits for renewable energy producers.
"We've got 59 (votes). We need 60. We have only eight Republicans to help us. We need one more," Reid said, adding that he would like to see the tax credits extended.
Industry insiders have agreed with Reid that stable tax policy allows developers to more easily borrow money to fund their multi-million dollar projects.