Green Jobs for Nevada’s Future

Steven Horsford<br>Nevada Senate Majority Leader

Steven Horsford
Nevada Senate Majority Leader

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Special advertising supplement to the Reno News & Review.

What we all know is that these are unbelievably difficult times. Nevada faces an enormous budget shortfall, now in the billions, and it will take the will of elected leaders, along with the people of Nevada, to solve it. Everyone, and we do mean everyone, is going to have to give something so that we can begin to move forward. We must find a new path forward. It is going to take courage to make bold decisions for the future of Nevada’s economy and communities.

We can no longer rely on an economy based largely on tourism and discretionary spending, depending on good times elsewhere to ensure good times in Nevada. We need to critically evaluate our revenue structure, and make the changes necessary to protect Nevada from future economic storms. We must chart new directions for Nevada—founded in a new economy that is stable and robust, with good jobs that create new revenue. Our first step is to invest in bringing green jobs to Nevada.

Nevada can take bold action to become a leader of the emerging field of green jobs. Our state’s climate presents us with both challenges and opportunities. Las Vegas’s heat challenges us to minimize the costs of keeping cool, our northern winters challenge us to keep warm, and our cloudless skies challenge us to use our water sparingly. These challenges can be met with greater emphasis on efficiency. By weatherizing homes, we can reduce the energy we use to heat and cool. Already, Las Vegas has succeeded in reducing the per-capita use of water, so that the even with out city’s tremendous growth, we reduced our water use by an estimated 15 billion gallons annually between 2002 and 2007.1

With Nevada’s sun, wind, and geothermal resources, we have the opportunity to build a large infrastructure to generate the energy that our state and its neighbors need. Generating energy from these renewable and bountiful sources brings multiple benefits. We will reduce emissions of CO2 and other gases and diminish the need for sources of foreign oil. With its available resources, Nevada has the potential to become a renewable energy hub for the entire mountain west, transmitting energy to our neighbors. Renewable energy generation will diversify our state’s economy, so that we will be less vulnerable to dramatic shifts in tourist behavior and a handful of other industries.

Perhaps most importantly, we will create new, high-paying jobs that will stay here in Nevada. Workers who specialize in retrofitting existing buildings to run more efficiently must live and work here to work on our buildings, and when the economy recovers, will help build homes with efficiency measures already in place. Jobs building and maintaining the solar facilities, windmills, and geothermal stations that will power our state’s future can never be outsourced to competitors overseas.

These jobs provide ready access for citizens to start at the most basic level and work their way up a career ladder or across branches of an industry, increasing their skills and salaries across the span of a career. For example, a young worker today might start as an apprentice electrician updating wiring in low-income homes and work along the conventional construction track to eventually become a foreman overseeing the installation of solar panels on the roof of a mall or government building. The same worker might decide instead to go back to school to become an engineer, designing windmills. Or they might decide to start a small business, teaming up with a former ironworker and a former glazier to manufacture small solar units for home use.

Taking this bold step forward will not be easy—but it must be done. Our workforce will need to upgrade their skills to maintain state-of-the-art knowledge of materials and practices, and the management of our electrical grid will need to adjust to accommodate the new sources of power. We are already taking steps to seize this opportunity to bring green jobs to Nevada. I know we are up to the challenge. Our universities and community colleges have already begun programs of study in renewable energy in anticipation of the expansion of the industry.

We must take bold action now to ensure we win the renewable race, which is why I have proposed legislation that would use stimulus funds to train Nevada workers, many of whom are unemployed, to train workers on weatherization and retrofits, and then to follow up with projects that will increase the efficiency of low-income homes and government buildings, saving our citizens’ and taxpayers’ dollars.

I believe that building a sustainable future by engaging in the emerging sector of green jobs is the right thing to do, for our present and our future. I believe that we have a moral responsibility to our children to leave our state in better condition than we found it. We must take the first steps toward a cleaner, more efficient state by investing in these jobs today.

1Southern Nevada Water Authority Water Resource Portfolio 2008 pg. 21– (

Special advertising supplement to the Reno News & Review.