The National Clean Energy Summit isn’t just the story of clean energy development in Nevada, where the eighth annual summit will be held, it’s the story of clean energy in the west and across the nation, according to Lydia Ball, a consultant with the Clean Energy Project.
On Monday, Aug. 24, the summit will be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center in Las Vegas. This year includes a keynote address from President Barack Obama, and a variety of talks from speakers, including U.S. Senator Harry Reid and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, among 21 others.
The summit, according to Ball, is a stage for questions regarding clean energy policy to be asked and solved, as the U.S. moves towards a clean energy economy.
The main driver behind the Summit was Reid, who back around 2007 “decided to oppose the coal plants,” says Ball in an interview with R&D Magazine. “He knew that if you said no to something, you had to say yes to something.”
From 2010 to 2014, Ball says investments in Nevada’s clean energy economy reached $5.5 billion. More than 20,000 state residents are employed by clean energy, conservation and energy-efficiency businesses, according to the Summit. Further, the state installed 339 MW of solar electric capacity in 2014, ranking it third nationally. And, on a per-person basis, the state ranks first in installed geothermal energy and solar energy capacity.
“Nevada is really blessed with significant resources for geothermal” energy, she says, alluding to plate tectonic activity underneath the state.
Ball became involved in clean energy while working for the Sierra Club in 2006. Reid’s actions drove her to look into the process behind coal-fired power and its effects on the environment. “I really loved energy. I loved the politics of working on energy,” she says.
Unlike previous years, this year’s Summit will feature a debate on the future of rooftop solar energy. “We see this conversation happening because the nation is starting to move to a clean energy business model,” says Ball.
Charles Cicchetti, an economist and co-founder of the Pacific Economics Group, will share the stage with Lisa Wood, the executive director of the Institute for Electric Innovation and the VP of The Edison Foundation. The two will debate the merits of net energy metering.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid…If a residential customer has a PV (photovoltaics) system on the home’s rooftop, it may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours. If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backwards to provide a credit against what electricity is consumed.
The excess energy goes back to the power company.
Some energy utilities, according to Ball, are in the throes of figuring out business models to accommodate for net metering. “There’s a cost shift that’s going on to other ratepayers (without solar) to pay for the infrastructure,” she says.
The summit is co-sponsored by Reid, the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International and the Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas.
More information can be found at: www.CleanEnergySummit.org
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