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Nevada lawmakers OK money for energy authority

Despite a historic budget shortfall that forced lawmakers to make deep cuts in nearly every state agency, the Legislature created the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Authority. Lawmakers hope it eventually will be funded with tax dollars from the renewable energy projects the authority helps to attract to the state. In the meantime, the new authority has $500,000 taken from the Public Utilities Commission's reserve account.

Lawmakers who signed off on a bare-bones budget today for a newly-created state agency to oversee Nevada's renewable energy efforts questioned the stability of the funding and whether a qualified candidate could be recruited to run it.

Despite a historic budget shortfall that forced lawmakers to make deep cuts in nearly every state agency, the Legislature created the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Authority. Lawmakers hope it eventually will be funded with tax dollars from the renewable energy projects the authority helps to attract to the state.

In the meantime, the new authority has $500,000 taken from the Public Utilities Commission's reserve account.

The Interim Finance Committee, a panel of lawmakers who oversee budget issues when the Legislature is not in session, approved the initial budget today. It includes a $110,000 annual salary for an energy commissioner and a $53,000 annual salary for an executive assistant.

"We're creating a new bureaucracy on a funding mechanism that I am not optimistic about and we're doing it with funds that may not be there for the next biennium," Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said. "Will we be able to recruit somebody who is capable and... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Lawmakers who signed off on a bare-bones budget today for a newly-created state agency to oversee Nevada's renewable energy efforts questioned the stability of the funding and whether a qualified candidate could be recruited to run it.

Despite a historic budget shortfall that forced lawmakers to make deep cuts in nearly every state agency, the Legislature created the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Authority. Lawmakers hope it eventually will be funded with tax dollars from the renewable energy projects the authority helps to attract to the state.

In the meantime, the new authority has $500,000 taken from the Public Utilities Commission's reserve account.

The Interim Finance Committee, a panel of lawmakers who oversee budget issues when the Legislature is not in session, approved the initial budget today. It includes a $110,000 annual salary for an energy commissioner and a $53,000 annual salary for an executive assistant.

"We're creating a new bureaucracy on a funding mechanism that I am not optimistic about and we're doing it with funds that may not be there for the next biennium," Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said. "Will we be able to recruit somebody who is capable and has the skill set to be an executive director without the guarantee these funds will be there?"

The authority will use PUC reserve funds for two years. After that, the legislation calls for the authority to be funded with property tax revenue from new renewable energy projects.

The state is working with 14 renewable energy companies who are seeking tax incentives to expand or relocate to Nevada, said Ken Pierson, director of business development for the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.

A portion of the tax revenue generated by those businesses eventually would go to the authority.

Lawmakers established the energy authority to better manage state efforts to build a renewable energy industry by luring power generating projects, equipment manufacturers and research and development companies to Nevada.

The new commissioner will be able to ask for more money when the authority's mission is better developed, state budget director Andrew Clinger said.

Gov. Jim Gibbons will appoint the commissioner but has made little progress in recruiting one, Clinger said.

"Now that they have the budget approved, they'll start looking for candidates," he said.


Source: http://www.rgj.com/article/...

JUN 25 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20857-nevada-lawmakers-ok-money-for-energy-authority
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