Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2021

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A shorter wait for green projects after criticism

Process streamlined, drawing mixed reactions

Hatice Gecol

Hatice Gecol

After hearing criticism of the administration’s progress on renewable energy regulations, Gov. Jim Gibbons’ top energy adviser said this week that green energy projects will be able to apply for tax abatements sooner than originally estimated.

The application process for property and sales tax breaks will be completed within two to three months, said Hatice Gecol, the newly appointed state energy commissioner. Last week, Gecol said it would take five to six months, drawing protests from impatient lobbyists and lawmakers.

The change came after Gecol reviewed legislation passed by the 2009 Legislature and spoke with lawyers from the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

Instead of passing formal regulations, “we can move forward with an application process that can be set up over a lot shorter time frame,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The Legislature passed bills this year extending tax breaks for renewable energy projects. Though state leaders, including Gibbons and Democratic legislative leadership, have said renewable energy is a key way to diversify Nevada’s economy, legislators and industry lobbyists have complained about a lack of urgency by the administration on renewable energy since the session ended.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, who wrote the tax incentive bill, said she expects an application for the tax abatements to be ready in three weeks, with the process finalized by the first of the year.

News of the shorter time line got mixed reviews.

“The sooner the better,” said Rose McKinney-James, a longtime renewable energy advocate and lobbyist. “We’re on the verge of falling behind. Now that we have the commissioner in place, it’s very critical that we ... get the show on the road.”

Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, and the top GOP member on renewable energy, questioned why the administration didn’t know how to implement the tax incentives soon after the legislation passed in late May.

“Why didn’t they know this six months ago?” he said. “I’m standing outside, and it’s 48 degrees. Back then it was like 100 degrees ... There doesn’t appear to me to be any sense of urgency. And that’s disturbing to me.”

•••

The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that property owners may challenge a city’s decision to annex property — even if they don’t live within the boundaries of the disputed land.

Justice Nancy Saitta wrote in the unanimous opinion last week that the ruling was an expansion of a prior decision involving Henderson in which the court ruled that property owners had the right to challenge a redevelopment plan even if they did not have property in the area.

The court said property owners still must prove they will be adversely affected by an annexation.

In the case, the court overruled Washoe County District Judge Steven Elliott, who held that citizens of the Northern Nevada community of Cold Springs did not have a legal right to challenge the Reno City Council vote to annex 7,000 acres of undeveloped land north of the city and adjacent to Cold Springs.

Saitta said the Cold Springs citizens must now establish that they have, or reasonably will, suffer an adverse effect because of the annexation.

Sun Capital Bureau chief Cy Ryan contributed to this story.

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