Nevada’s Rural Renewables Generate $7.9 Billion in Economic Impact

The Western Way, in partnership with the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce released, “The Economic Benefits of Nevada Rural Renewable Energy Facilities.”  The economic impact study, conducted by Development Research Partners, found that 29 rural renewable projects constructed in Nevada from 2006 to 2017 resulted in significant economic benefits to rural Nevada, including:

·       $7.9 billion contributed to the Nevada economy;

·       12,056 Nevada jobs;

·       $947.3 million in wages to paid to Nevada employees; and

·       $152.3 million in state and local tax revenues benefiting Nevada.

The study also found that rural renewable facilities continue to contribute to the Nevada economy after construction is completed.  Annually these projects contribute $187.5 million to the state economy.  This includes ongoing wages of over $61.3 million earned by 1,144 employees and local and state taxes of $6 million per year.

Blake Guinn, Nevada Director of The Western Way, said, “Nevada has the best solar and geothermal resources in the country.  This study demonstrates the significant impact this industry currently has on the Nevada economy and, more importantly, demonstrates the enormous economic opportunity in Nevada to further develop these resources. Utility scale renewables are cost competitive, create jobs, and generate tax dollars for communities throughout the state. Advancing the development of these resources will drive Nevada’s rural economy.”

The study also tested the economic and fiscal benefits of adding new geothermal and solar facilities in Nevada.  The model test case was a new 75MW-Geothermal facility in Lyon County and a 100 MW-Solar PV Facility in Nye County.  The report showed the model geothermal project would result in a total economic output of $14.9 million for construction and $8.9 direct and indirect benefits annually.  The potential solar project would yield $2.5 million in total economic output and annual operations would generate $1.9 million.

Executive Director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, Bill Chernock said, “The results of this study show just how significant renewable energy is to our state’s overall economy and how future projects could boost our local economies.  These projects can drive significant investments, jobs and reliable annual tax revenues to regions of our state that are too often overlooked.” 

“Make the lame duck less lame” – Move Forward Legislation that Protects Outdoor Rec. Jobs and Landmarks

On November 29th Western Senators Cory Gardner (CO) and Steve Daines (MT) led a group of bipartisan members of congress in calling for full funding and permanent re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  Sen. Gardner made an impassioned call to action for his fellow U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to stand up and fight for LWCF before the end of the year.  Sen. Gardner called LWCF: “…the most important conservation program, this country has, the crown jewel of our conservation efforts at no cost to taxpayers.”  

LWCF is critical for Western sportsmen and Western state economies.  Gardner noted a recent news article which highlighted the large number of inaccessible acres of public land spread throughout the West.  LWCF can be used to help open up access of these public lands for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation activities.  Over 269,000 acres of federal public lands in Colorado are inaccessible, an area the size of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Across the West number is estimated at 9.5 million acres of inaccessible federal public lands. 

Creating access to these lands helps the rural economies of the Mountain West by letting them tap into the outdoor recreation economy’s huge annual estimated spend of nearly $900 billion and 7.5 million jobs. 

Utah Legislature Supports Rural Energy Development

In continued support of an “all of the above” energy policy, the Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Interim Committee of the Utah Legislature adopted a committee resolution in the recent November Interim Hearings. The resolution which will next be considered by the full legislature and the governor in 2019 calls for support of commonsense energy policy by advancing rural development of wind, solar, hydrogen, and geothermal energy.

The resolution identifies the crucial role rural areas of the state play in energy development and also recognizes the economic benefits of the expansion of these types of energy resources. The resolution also supports the state moving to producing wind, solar, hydrogen, and geothermal energy as a product to export to states across the western United States.

The resolution was adopted unanimously by the committee and will be formal presented as a committee resolution when the Utah Legislature formally convenes in January of 2019. The full text of the resolution can be found here: 

TWW's Nevada Team works to Support Free Market Energy Policies

TWW's Nevada Director Blake Guinn has been busy supporting free market energy policies in Nevada.  Guinn has attended and participated in a variety of town-halls and community discussions focused on Nevada's future energy policies. 

This coming election, voters will decide whether or not to move forward with the Energy Choice Initiative, (Question 3) which would allow new energy generators to come into the state and create a competitive market. The initiative would make unlawful, pursuant to an amendment to the Nevada State Constitution, for an energy monopoly to exist starting in 2023. The campaign for Energy Choice has become the costliest campaign in Nevada history with over $100 million funded from both Yes and No.

TWW Hears From Utah Leaders on Critical Issues

On October 16th, The Western Way held a round-table discussion with conservative leaders in Utah to talk about the critical environmental and energy issues facing the Beehive State.  TWW appreciated hearing from the in-state experts on a wide variety of major issues ranging from Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments and wildfire prevention strategies to mine reclamation and rural energy development.        

The next day, Utah’s Public Utilities Energy & Technology Interim Committee met to look at the specific factors that limit development of wind, solar and geothermal in rural Utah and what changes might be in order to drive more economic development.

TWW’s Bob Beauprez led the conversation and shared why TWW has been successful in working across Western states to help educate and forge relationships that result in reasonable solutions to environmental problems. The dynamic conversation in Utah, furthered TWW’s belief that Western States are leading the nation in developing commonsense policy solutions.

TWW’s Nevada Team Tours Switch’s TAHOE RENO campus

Switch, a world leader in datacenter design, operations, and development, opened its doors to TWW’s Nevada team and local leaders from Northern Nevada to tour their TAHOE RENO campus this month.  Switch is an innovative world leader in datacenters and the company has designed their facilities to be able to handle the next 30 years of technological advancement. The facility in Northern Nevada allows for Switch to plug and play with future technology, which is unlike any other data center currently in the existence.   Over 500 patents are pending or have been granted to Switch to optimize data center design, heating and cooling, energy efficiency and other technology.   

In large part, Switch gains its competitive market advantage by tackling one of the industry’s highest costs – energy.  Switch has been an industry leader in moving towards 100% renewable energy usage, which they own and buy through power purchase agreements at rates over half the cost provided by the regulated utility.  Switch initiated Nevada’s Energy Choice Initiative and has been a strong proponent of letting a competitive market place drive lower rates for all other residential and commercial users across the state. 

Switch is using technological innovation, harnessing efficiencies, and breaking the conventional framework to become an industry leader in a highly competitive market.  All the while, showing that good environmental stewardship makes for a strong bottom line.  Switch is truly an example of how innovators in Western States are pioneering solutions that support the economy and improve the environment. 

Leaders from Across the Eastern Plains Support the Colorado Energy Plan

Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to begin deliberations soon on the Colorado Energy Plan and rural leaders from the Eastern Plains recently submitted a joint letter of support to the PUC highlighting the importance of the plan to their region’s economy and to ratepayers across the state.


In the letter seven county commissioners from Logan, Prowers, Yuma and Cheyenne counties outlined the economic benefits that the Colorado Energy Plan would have by spurring new investment in rural Colorado. The Commissioners wrote:


“Colorado’s rural communities face unique challenges and opportunities that are not shared by urban centers along the Front Range. Rural Colorado has fallen behind in key economic areas and it is affecting our local communities. Serving as a leader in renewable energy production is not only a source of pride in our counties but it is a key economic factor that will help us grow and strengthen our local communities. Rural Colorado stands ready to deliver the benefits of the Colorado Energy Plan across the entire state.”


Greg Brophy, director of The Western Way’s Rural Energy Network, applauded the support for the plan saying, “Community leaders from across the Eastern Plains showed their strong support for the Colorado Energy Plan. It's especially telling that commissioners from counties that stand to gain absolutely nothing from the CEP recognize that it's good for rate payers and for rural Colorado.”

The Arizona Energy Modernization Plan Would Boost the Arizona Economy and Create Arizona Jobs

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin’s Energy Modernization Plan makes sense for Arizona and The Western Way is glad that the ACC has decided to move forward with the rule-making process.  The Energy Modernization Plan is a major policy decision that would shape how customers pay for electricity and where that electricity comes from.  It deserves to be reviewed with the due diligence ensured by the ACC process.  The plan was based on several years of outreach and meetings and officially proposed on January 30th of this year.   

Many western states are currently in the process of debating important changes to energy policy that could lead to more competitive rates and attractive business climates, Arizona cannot afford to be left behind as new innovations and technology are changing the energy sector landscape.  The Energy Modernization Plan is a balanced energy portfolio approach which many neighboring states have successfully adopted years ago.  Arizona needs an “All of the Above” energy policy, with an emphasis on controlling costs, saving ratepayers money, managing demand, reducing waste, creating jobs and helping businesses.

The plan is a win in both the short term and the future. More immediately, ratepayers would not have to spend as much building costly new power plants. Over the decades, it would also save money because Arizona would transition to sources of energy that cost less — and are continuing to go down in price. This is the sensible and appropriate approach to energy policy, unlike the California based ballot initiative that would force irresponsible policies on our state and increase costs for Arizona families. 

The Western Way Announces Arizona Advisory Board

The Western Way is pleased to announce its Arizona Advisory Board.  The Board will help TWW identify and provide guidance on the pertinent conservation issues in Arizona.  The Western Way is grateful to have the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of these Arizona leaders who bring so much experience on the critical issues facing Arizona.  

TWW Arizona Advisory Board

  • Rusty Bowers serves as a state representative in LD25. Bowers has years of experience in the legislature. He currently serves on the Appropriations and Education Committees and is chairman of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources committee. Rusty served with honor and distinction for several years in the Arizona legislature before engaging in several community and career endeavors. Rusty has had an active career in construction, education, the legislature and as a professional artist who is well-known for his outstanding talents, skills and diverse artistic ability.  Bowers is a fourth generation Arizonan and attended Maricopa Community College, ASU and Brigham Young University.
  • T.J. Shope serves as a state representative in LD8. In the House of Representatives, Shope has served on the House Committee on Agriculture & Water as well as the House Committee on Energy, Environment & Natural Resources. He currently serves as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House as well as chairing the House Committee on Rules. T.J. has received recognition from all types of organizations because of his work at the capitol. He won the "Freshman of the Year" award from the Arizona Mining Association, was recognized as one of the "Tech Ten" legislators by the Arizona Technology Council, and many other impressive accolades. 
  • Karen Fann serves as the state senator for LD1. Senator Fann was elected in November of 2016 to represent Legislative District 1, which covers 8,000 square smiles throughout Yavapai County and portions of Maricopa County. She previously served this district from 2011 to 2016 as a State Representative. Karen is the owner and CEO of a highway construction company specializing in the installation of guardrail and signs throughout the State of Arizona, which recently celebrated its 33rd business anniversary. Karen is a licensed contractor with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, past president of Yavapai County Contractors Association and past president of Prescott Chapter National Association of Women in Construction. 
  • Lisa Atkins was appointed in 2015 by Governor Ducey to serve as State Land Commissioner (approved unanimously by the Senate).  Ms. Atkins, when asked to serve by Governor Ducey, requested that she be allowed to stay on the Board of Central Arizona Project (CAP) where she was elected to serve as the President of the Board. Lisa Atkins has a long history of service to the State of Arizona, with more than 40 years of experience in the federal and state legislative and policy arenas. Ms. Atkins served for more than 23 years as Chief of Staff to Congressman Bob Stump, 18 months as the Executive Director of the County Supervisors Association of Arizona and 11 years as the Vice President for Public Policy for Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL). Ms. Atkins also serves as a member of the Arizona State Parks and Trails Board and the Arizona Military Affairs Commission, of which she is co-chair.
  • Cheryl Lombard has more than 20 years experience in politics, public affairs, media and community relations, and nonprofit management. She became the President and CEO of Valley Partnership in March 2015. Before joining Valley Partnership, Cheryl was the Government Relations Director for The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. There she received many awards and most recently served as the Co-Chair of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s Transition Committee on State Lands. She has previously served on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s Transition Team. Cheryl was the Director of Public Affairs with Davies Communications in Santa Barbara, California where she headed the Land Use/Real Estate Group and led several commercial and residential development clients successfully through the California land entitlement process.
  • Peter Hayes serves as Chief Public Affairs Executive and Associate General Manager of Salt River Project. Mr. Hayes served as Head of Public Affairs at Salt River Project since July 2011. Peter Hayes is responsible for managing relationships with all governmental entities, as well as public involvement, consumer affairs and community outreach. SRP is one of Arizona’s largest utility companies. They provide electricity to approximately 1 million retail customers in a 2,900-square-mile service area that spans three Arizona counties, including most of the Phoenix metropolitan area. SRP's water business is one of the largest raw-water suppliers in Arizona. They deliver about 800,000 acre-feet of water annually to a 375-square-mile service area and manage a 13,000-square-mile watershed that includes an extensive system of reservoirs, wells, canals and irrigation laterals.

Sen. Cory Gardner Urges the Senate to Protect Outdoor Rec. Jobs and Landmarks

On July 12, 2018, Senator Cory Gardner (CO) urged his colleagues in the U.S. Senate to permanently reauthorize the Land Water Conservation Fund (“LWCF”).  Sen. Gardner took to the Senate floor to discuss the importance of LWCF and also signed on as a co-sponsor to S.569, which would authorize and fund the program.  LWCF, which does not require any taxpayer dollars, is critical for western sportsmen and western state economies.  

LWCF programs maintain critical infrastructure and open access to public lands in support of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor rec. activities that have become key economic drivers in Colorado and other western states.   The outdoor recreation industry is estimated to  have a total annual spend of $886.8 billion and drive over 7.5 million jobs across the country.  In the Mountain West alone, the outdoor industry generates $104.5 billion in consumer spending, creates 925,000 jobs, and contributes $7.6 billion to state and local taxes.

LWCF has been in existence for 52 years.  In Colorado, LWCF investments totaling over $265 million have helped preserve national treasures like Great Sand Dunes National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park but the program has also played a critical role in local parks, open spaces and education centers that connect the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts to the land. 

The Western Way applauds Senator Gardner for his leadership on LWCF permanent authorization and full funding.

TWW's Rural Energy Network Members Tour Rush Creek

Members of TWW’s Rural Energy Network recently toured Xcel Energy’s Rush Creek I Wind Farm in Elbert County, Colorado.  The 600 MW wind project will include two wind farms and 83 miles of transmission lines to connect the generated energy with users on the Front Range.  This eastern plains project will be built out across Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, and Lincoln counties – home to some of Colorado’s best wind resources.  The project is using wind turbines built by Vestas at its three Colorado manufacturing sites in Pueblo, Windsor and Brighton. 

The Rush Creek project is estimated to inject $1 billion into the state’s economy and will have a significant impact on rural economies.  TWW’s Rural Energy Network has seen how important projects like Rush Creek are to their local communities.  These projects not only generate construction jobs on the front end but grow the tax base which in-turn supports needed local government services.  Eastern Colorado has also seen an increase in high paying jobs for wind technicians, which has driven the creation of certificate programs at local community colleges.  

Progressive 15, a Northeastern Colorado Chamber, recently quantified the economic impact that renewable energy projects have on Colorado’s Eastern Plains counties.  The report found:

  • Total direct and indirect economic benefit of construction and investment activity in renewable energy facilities in eastern Colorado from 2000 to 2016 was an estimated $2.7 billion in total output
  • Projects produced 5,919 worker-years (2,595 direct employees + 3,324 indirect employees) earning a total of about $302.6 million ($154.2 million direct earnings + $148.4 indirect earnings) during the construction period.
  • Total direct and indirect economic benefits of operating eastern Colorado’s renewable energy facilities is an estimated $138.7 million in total annual output.

 

Arizona’s Salt River Project Leads on Battery Storage Integration

Salt River Project (SRP) recently began construction of Arizona’s first standalone battery storage project intended to provide flexible peaking capacity.  The 10 MW storage system can deliver the equivalent energy needed to power 2,400 homes for up to four hours.  More importantly, however, is that the project serves as a signal that storage technology has quickly become a market competitive option for utilities. 

Industry estimates, which forecast that lithium-ion capital costs will drop by 36% over the next five years, have utilities increasingly looking to incorporate more storage capacity into their resource planning. In the last month alone, in addition to SRP’s project, there have been four other major storage announcements by utilities in the western United States. In Colorado, Xcel Energy detailed plans for a 275 MW storage project that would come online in 2022 if approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission.  In Texas, Vista Energy released plans to develop a 10 MW, 42 MWH project which would be the largest in the state.  Nevada’s largest utility announced plans for a possible 100 MW storage project.      

In Arizona, SRP’s storage project will help determine the best way to scaleup larger energy storage projects.  And thanks to the Arizona Corporation Commission’s forward thinking on the state’s energy future, larger storage projects could play a vital role in the state’s energy infrastructure.  Earlier this year ACC Commissioner Andy Tobin proposed an Energy Modernization Plan, which calls for 3,000 MW of storage by 2030. 

The Energy Modernization Plan is a common-sense Arizona based plan.  Beyond calling for investment in storage technologies that help manage electricity demand, which makes the grid more reliable, flexible, and inexpensive, the proposal would, by 2050, have Arizona get 80 percent of its energy from sources like solar, storage, and nuclear. The plan calls for investing in efficiency, which is the least expensive way to meet the state’s energy needs.  The Energy Modernization Plan would ensure that Arizona remains a national leader energy innovation while protecting consumer rates. 

Senators Gardner and Heller Request Tariff Exemption for Utility Scale Solar

Senators Cory Gardner (CO) and Dean Heller (NV) signed onto a letter with six of their Republican Senate colleagues asking the Trump Administration to exclude utility scale solar panels from recent trade actions designed to help U.S. manufacturers against unfair competition from foreign solar panel imports.  The letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary Wilbur Ross, points out that the President’s directive on the solar tariff allows for exemptions to be made when unintended consequences would result that lower domestic economic growth. 

In this case, the Senators are correctly calling for an exemption of 72 cell, 1500 volt utility scale solar panels because the domestic market is not able to meet the booming demand for these panels.  Utility scale solar projects required more than 10,000 MW of these panels in 2016, however, that same year the U.S. domestic market only produced 550 MW of 72 cell modules.  To further complicate the situation, of these domestically produced 72 cell panels, all were of the 1,000 volt variety for commercial and residential applications which yield a higher margin than the 1,500 volt type that utility scale solar requires.  It’s clear that the U.S. domestic market will not be able to respond fast enough to meet the demand for utility scale modules putting this segment of the industry and the tens of thousands of American jobs associated with it in jeopardy.                                                                                                                                       

Even though these specific solar modules are not manufactured in the United States, the domestic solar supply chain and workforce benefits and relies on the deployment of these panels.  The letter highlights the fact that the President’s directive allows for “benefit[s] or advantage[s] to the long-term competitiveness of the solar manufacturing supply chain” to be taken into consideration when granting a product exclusion.  The Senators conclude their request by arguing that:

The exclusion of 72-cell, 1500 volt solar panels from the safeguard measure will preserve tens of thousands of existing solar manufacturing and development jobs, foster market expansion, and allow the U.S. to once again fairly compete in the global marketplace for energy production technologies.  Sensible product exclusions will uphold the integrity of the safeguard measures intended to facilitate positive adjustment to competition from imports of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. 

The Western Way supports this common sense request that will save U.S. jobs and increase the economic impact of utility scale solar projects across the West.   

Red States Lead in Energy Production

The American Wind Energy Association recently issued its U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report for 2017, and—spoiler alert—the United States is second in both global installed wind power capacity and wind energy generation. Wind now supplies 6.3% of America’s electricity and accounts for 30% of the electricity produced in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Wind is also a major player in Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Texas—all red states—proving that renewables garner bipartisan support. And, why shouldn’t it? More than 500 wind-related manufacturing facilities support 105,000 jobs, and every state has some wind-related facility or project within its borders.

This report should disrupt the perception that renewables are only supported by those that lean to the political left. Wind spans the political spectrum and benefits all Americans by increasing private investment in rural America, providing career opportunities, breathing revenue into state coffers, and promoting national security. That’s probably why wind projects and facilities are present and supported in 75% of Republican congressional districts and 62% of Democratic districts.

The Western Way supports an all-of-the-above energy policy, and wind energy is one of the nation’s most robust resources. It should come as no surprise that the top 5 states leading the U.S. in wind energy production are conservative. We are the party of conservation, and we are proud to support an industry that promotes cheap, reliable, and sustainable energy.

The Hill: Western states lead with a balanced energy policy

The Trump administration has had a remarkable impact on the U.S. energy policy over the past year. The number of policy changes and administrative actions in such a short timeframe is unprecedented.

In the Western U.S., the reversal of certain Obama-era energy policies was welcome news. People often forget that 93 percent of federal lands are located in 13 western states. In these states overly restrictive federal energy policies has real life impacts — people lose jobs and communities lose critical tax revenue necessary to fund basic services.  Read More.

By Sarah Hunt, American Legislative Exchange Council and Bob Beauprez, The Western Way

TWW Hosts Outdoor Industry Business Round-Table with Senator Gardner

Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show made its debut in Denver earlier this year.  OR is the largest U.S. trade show for the outdoor and winter sports industries, with more than 29,000 attendees and 7,500 buyers from 60 countries.   It was the largest trade show ever staged at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, using over half a million square feet. 

The Western Way, hosted a CEO Round-Table discussion with Senator Cory Gardner (R)-CO.  TWW's Chair Bob Beauprez led the discussion with outdoor industry CEO's. 

The group covered a wide range of topics from conservation and access to public lands to international trade policy.  Sen. Gardner has been a strong proponent of the outdoor industry.  Most recently, he sponsored the Outdoor REC Act, legislation that was signed into law and requires, for the first time, outdoor recreation economy be counted as part of national GDP.  

azcentral: Here's how Republicans like me can protect the environment

Western conservatives have a historic record of protecting the environment and preserving critical conservation efforts. 

President Ronald Reagan signed into law 38 bills that added more than 10.6 million acres of forests, mountains, deserts and wetlands to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Sen. Barry Goldwater, “Mr. Conservative,” made clear that protecting the environment must remain an American priority: “While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.”

azcentral: Senator Karen Fann: Here's how Republicans like me can protect the environment

Colorado Politics: Conservation starts with Conservatives

"Despite what the culture the media lead the public to believe, conservation starts with conservatives, and farmers and ranchers are our nation’s vital environmentalists. That was the message Saturday from former Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez, the son of a dairy farmer and a rancher."

Colorado Politics: Bob Beauprz: Conservation Starts with Conservatives

Centennial Institute: Environment 2017- Western Way is the Right Way

"As Westerners who love liberty, limited government, and the land, it’s high time we stop letting the bicoastal progressives claim heartland conservatives and the GOP want to despoil the environment. What lot of bovine scatology.

Conservatives don’t care about the earth? Please. No one cares more about conserving America’s natural and spiritual heritage than we do."

Centennial Institute: Environment 2017- Western Way is the Right Way