Heller votes to cut renewables

SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nye County is pretty far along.

On Dec. 22, 2009, the Santa Monica-based developer of solar projects announced that it had reached a 25-year agreement with NV Energy (formerly Sierra Pacific) for the sale of power from the Crescent Dunes project near Tonopah.

On Dec. 14, 2010, the U.S. Interior Department signed off on the site for the project, about 2,250 acres of public land.

An environmental impact statement released on Nov. 11, 2010, raised only minor and easily remedied problems with the 110-megawatt plant that will use a solar tower power design with molten salt energy storage.

The corporation qualified for a 30 percent tax credit for the project.

But now there’s a hitch—budgeters in the U.S. House of Representatives, including U.S. Rep. Dean Heller of Nevada, are trying to cut off the money. SolarReserve has applied for a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee, but Republicans in the House are trying to reduce or even kill the loan guarantee program that has caused a surge in solar investment. Solar industry executives say if the GOP plans succeed, it will end solar projects in several states—including the world’s largest such plant—and a manufacturing plant for solar parts.

Heller told the Pahrump Valley Times in Nye County, “It’s one of those things that we’re out of money. We’re really out of money. You know there’s no more leprechauns running around. It’s just very, very difficult to find the money to do it. It’s not the lack of desire or the urge for projects to happen, the problem is that right now the federal government is near bankruptcy. … I think it’s good for Nevada, it brings some real opportunities for Nevada. The problem is you’re looking down the road trying to figure out where the money is going to come from. That’s making it more and more difficult. Obviously we have to figure out what our priorities are. It’s a priority issue.”