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United States

Renewables hold economic bounty

Nevada could realise nearly $21 billion in gross state product (GSP) and create thousands of jobs through the year 2035 simply by meeting the state's renewables portfolio standard (RPS), says a new study from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. And wind, the study's authors say, could be a significant part of the mix.

Nevada's RPS requires that 15% of the state's electricity come from renewable resources by 2013, up from the current level of 3.9%. By the time that target is reached, nearly 5500 jobs a year and an average $665 million in GSP annually will be attributable to the economic impacts of renewable energy.

"This study clearly supports Nevada's aggressive efforts to move to a renewable, sustainable energy economy," says Rose McKinney-James, chair of the Nevada Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Task Force, which commissioned the study. "It's a clear demonstration of the dramatic role that continued development of a strong renewable energy industry and progressive policy will have on the economic well-being of our state."

Nevada has considerable renewable energy resources, most of which remain untapped. Full utilisation of the state's wind resources could generate 50.6 million MWh of electricity, the study says. Southern Nevada also has one of the world's best sources for solar power and an abundance of high-temperature geothermal sites suitable for electricity generation.

Developing those resources could have other benefits as well, including meeting Governor Kenny Guinn's goal of making Nevada a net exporter of electricity. Last year, Nevada paid $2.5 billion to out-of-state energy producers.

Renewables could also be a powerful economic development tool. "Much of rural Nevada is awash in geothermal, solar, and wind resources. Developing these resources in rural counties can concentrate the economic benefits where they are most needed," the study says. "New jobs in the relatively highly paid utility industry could provide a core of income for counties that are fast losing traditional income sources such as mining."

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