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Nevada Governor Said to Support Conservation Push

Although his state-of-the-state speech last Monday was short on energy specifics, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn will push for more energy conservation efforts in the state in 2005, according to his energy adviser Richard Burdette.

Guinn will draw on a report released earlier this month by a regional energy efficiency group that estimated stepped-up energy-saving measures could save the state $5 billion over the next 15 years. Several energy bills will be sought in this year's 120-day session of the Nevada Legislature, which meets beginning in February through mid-June, Burdette said.

The focus will be on both conservation and energy efficiency, Burdette said, noting that the state lawmakers also are expected to look at other energy related issues, including some clean-up bills related to the state energy trust for renewable development. It was created last year to kick-start approved wind and solar projects that were having trouble gaining financing because of the poor credit ratings of Nevada's two major power utilities.

Since neighboring state regulatory commissions have had cases in which "just-and-reasonable" findings for new energy projects have been revoked, the Nevada lawmakers want to include a provision in the renewable trust law that prevents future Nevada Public Utilities Commissions from doing that, Burdette said. "I would guess you will see some effort by this legislature to prevent a future PUC from revoking or in any way modifying the previous determination of the prudence of a project.

"That has never happened in Nevada, but the reason they want the assurance is that lenders don't like the possibility of that happening."

Regarding conservation, Guinn's energy office was one of the sponsors of the $50,000 study by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, and when the study results were released Jan. 12 his press office issued a statement that said energy efficiency in a time of high energy prices can "protect Nevada's economic vitality." The governor's statement praised the energy project for its "insights" into proposing new policies for increasing energy efficiency.

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project urged the state to have efficiency standards at least equal to neighboring California's to avoid having products "dumped" in Nevada that cannot be sold in the nation's most populous state. In addition to the state energy office's $10,000 funding for the regional group's study, Nevada Power Co. and the Energy Fund in San Francisco also kicked in funding.

Among the report's proposals are establishment of annual energy-saving goals for the state's major investor-owned utilities and a 1% annual savings goal for natural gas consumption in the state.

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