Winds of change
Nevada Fair Share
For environmental engineering and renewable energy major Kaitlin Kimbrough, bringing wind energy to Nevada makes sense during rough economic times.
“A wind industry will bring growth to Reno,” she says. “We already have the landscape for it. And there are so many parts that go with it—the engineering, maintenance, manufacturing. Plus, it’s so much better for the environment.”
Kimbrough is a member of University of Nevada, Reno’s Nevada Fair Share, a student-run organization which is part of a larger network called the Fair Share Alliance. Fair Share Alliance works toward the development of employment opportunities for communities, and while their mission is focused on job growth and worker’s rights in all sectors, the members of NFS are focused specifically on green employment.
By the end of this year, a Nevada tax incentive for businesses to adopt wind energy will expire. Kimbrough and her peers hope to ensure that it will stay on the table as a resource for Nevada business owners.
“We want more businesses using wind turbines to provide their power,” she says. “Some local businesses are already doing it. But we know that people just need to be more informed.”
The students are stationed in three groups—grassroots campaigns, outreach, and a coalition to target the political side of the cause, which entails making phone calls and writing letters to representatives. NFS has only been in operation for a few weeks, but members have been busy recruiting volunteers on campus and are making plans for larger community events, such as film nights, lecture series and festivals.
“This [organization] offers so many different opportunities,” says Bonnie Makara, an economics major interested in political science. “It’s an issue that has more than one side, so we need people interested in different subjects. I’m interested in the economic benefits of renewable energy, especially saving jobs and making new ones. We had a big turnout at the first meeting. The feedback has all been positive.”
Currently, they have been handing out postcards for students to pledge their time and energy to the cause, and want to send the postcards to state representatives. Kimbrough says that they have also discussed creating an art installation, such as a giant turbine made of PVC pipes.
“We want to have events and activities that are creative, but can still inform people about the issues,” she says. “We don’t want to be an aggressive campaign. But everything we do has implications. We have to acknowledge that our way of life is not sustainable. It’s about changing our thought process.”
NFS is the first Fair Share branch in Nevada, but environmental science major Jacob Sax envisions their efforts expanding throughout the state, with headquarters stationed in Reno.
“I think it’d be great if we could get started here, and then get more of the community involved,” he says.
Makara says that no matter what happens with the tax incentive, NSF will continue to push for a Nevada wind industry and encourage other green energy markets.
“It would be awesome for the economy,” she says. “It would help our state so much to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”