Guest Column:

Cuts put Nevada jobs in jeopardy

Wed, Nov 29, 2017 (2 a.m.)

A 2016 study found that our state’s diverse energy efficiency sector employs more than 15,000 Nevadans, but proposed budget cuts endanger these jobs and their many spinoff benefits. These businesses include manufacturing plants in Nevada that produce energy efficient windows, insulation, solar water heaters and other clean-energy products, which the state exports nationally and internationally. Other companies employ thousands of people whose jobs involve retrofitting Nevada’s homes and businesses with more energy efficient lighting, heating, air conditioning, water heating and other services and equipment.

These good-paying jobs cannot be outsourced because they involve hands-on work, like construction and trades. These are exactly the kinds of jobs that Nevada needs to encourage. These workers spend their wages on local goods and services, which helps the state’s economy. They also create secondary benefits. Consumers and businesses save more money on their energy bills than they spend by buying these efficiency upgrades. And when consumers and businesses spend less to heat, cool and light their homes and buildings, they have more to spend on other goods, creating spinoff jobs and producing additional revenues for other local employers. Indeed, energy efficiency provides similar benefits nationwide.

Yet the Trump administration and the U.S. House of Representatives have proposed devastating cuts to these energy efficiency programs that benefit Nevada in the federal budget for fiscal year 2018.

For example, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office and Building Technologies Office fund research and development of new energy efficient technologies and supports startup businesses and entrepreneurs. DOE’s Pacific Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership has provided CHP market-opportunity analysis, technical assistance, education and outreach to nearly two dozen Nevada businesses and institutions. Most Nevadans also recognize Energy Star, a program that identifies and labels energy efficient appliances, equipment and buildings, but it, too, faces the budgetary ax.

In short, energy efficiency is a major driver of Nevada’s economy and the state is becoming more recognized as a clean-energy leader and innovation hub. Nevada businesses continue to leverage DOE and Environmental Protection Agency energy efficiency programs to help create jobs and produce energy cost savings.

Any abrupt and significant cuts to federal energy efficiency program funding would impede our ability to grow Nevada’s economy and create additional jobs. These important programs produce better technologies, other innovations, information for consumers and cost savings that have been so helpful to Nevada’s economy and clean-energy leadership. Such cuts would also hamper our state’s clean air and clean-energy goals.

Nevada’s congressional delegation has the opportunity to fight for, and build on, Nevada’s leadership in energy efficiency and clean energy by defending these programs. We are calling on our representatives in Congress to do so. These programs benefit Nevadans and all Americans; preserving them brightens the economic future of Nevada and is in our nation’s best interest.

Please join us in asking your senators and House members to lead this fight.

Editor’s note: This column was signed by Celeste Erlach, marketing manager, ElectraTherm; Ron Hunter, activism manager, Patagonia Inc.; Mark Lera, owner, American Institute of Building Science; Mary Winston, owner, EnergyMasters; and Louise Helton, vice president, 1 Sun Solar Electric LLC.

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