Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009 | 2:08 a.m.
State lawmakers spent considerable time this year debating plans to develop the renewable energy industry in Nevada. New legislation created the position of energy commissioner and was supposed to help state officials move quickly to attract renewable energy companies.
Since the Legislature adjourned in June, though, inertia has plagued the state’s efforts to attract solar, wind and geothermal projects. As David McGrath Schwartz reported in Thursday’s Las Vegas Sun, lawmakers, lobbyists and industry officials have been critical of the Gibbons administration’s lack of action.
“We’ve lost a great deal of momentum,” said Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, a legislative leader in renewable energy.
Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Reno, said the state is “behind.”
“We’ve had unfilled positions for a long time,” she said. “We have a lot of work to do in this state, a very big hill to climb.”
Gov. Jim Gibbons appointed Hatice Gecol, head of the state’s Energy Office, as energy commissioner last week. However, the administration’s choice of Gecol did not change critics’ minds, considering she was in charge of the office that was supposed to be ushering in new renewable energy development.
Lawmakers criticized her office for its handling of federal stimulus money meant for renewable energy projects and note that the state was the 41st in the nation to gain approval by the federal government of its energy plan.
Critics also point out that the administration has yet to write rules for tax incentives for renewable energy companies, which have been on the drawing table for months. Gecol said they should be done within six months, but that just seems to be more proof of the Gibbons administration’s lackadaisical approach. Townsend said the regulations shouldn’t take more than 90 days to complete.
These delays have been unacceptable. The governor should quit paying lip service to renewable energy and push for immediate action. Nevada should be a leader in renewable energy, but it has no chance if the governor’s office continues to drag its feet.