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Energy secretary promotes solar energy in Southern Nevada visit

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm met with U.S. Rep. Susie Lee and workers at the Townsite solar facility in Boulder City on Friday as she concluded a series of events in Southern Nevada promoting President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.

Granholm applauded Nevada lawmakers’ clean energy efforts, touting the state as the future of green power in America.

“Solar energy provides jobs,” Granholm said as she stood near the sprawling solar field off U.S. Highway 95. “And this is an example of it. Nevada is going to be the poster child for solar energy production.”

On Friday morning, Granholm helped more than a dozen union electricians install a solar module at the facility, one of thousands at the site. The project is part of Gigawatt 1, one of the largest solar projects in the world; it’s aimed at providing enough energy to power 1 million homes.

The project is a bellwether for the state, Lee said.

“We’ve always known in Nevada that we have such great potential when it comes to renewable energy, and we’re seeing it come to fruition right here,” she said.

Nevada ranks sixth in the country in the amount of solar installed, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The state generates enough energy to power nearly 700,000 homes. Nevada is one of five states with more than 10 percent of their electricity provided by solar. The state’s solar industry is made up of over 80 companies, employing more than 6,000 Nevadans.

It’s those steady, well-paying jobs the solar industry provides that has the union bullish on the coming years, said Billy Spielberg, a business agent for IBEW Local 357.

“We’re really excited for the future of this city and state right now,” he said. “We’re looking at steady employment over the next 10 years with these solar fields. This is the new way of the world. We’re excited to embrace it.”

Granholm’s visit comes on the heels of Gov. Steve Sisolak signing a clean energy bill that would require NV Energy to complete its Greenlink Nevada project by 2028, three years ahead of schedule. The legislation also will expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The energy secretary’s visit to Southern Nevada is one of several across the country, including stops in West Virginia and Texas, in her push for the president’s jobs plan and clean energy initiatives. If Biden’s plan comes to fruition, Granholm said, Nevada and other states can expect more projects like the one in Boulder City.

“If we can continue to expand our solar footprint in this country, we’re going to have to hire 900,000 more workers like these who are installing solar panels if we’re going to reach the president’s goal,” Granholm said. “We need this work.”

This story has been updated from a previous version to correct U.S. Rep. Susie Lee’s title.

Contact Dylan Svoboda at dsvoboda@reviewjournal.com. Follow @dylanksvoboda on Twitter.

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