The National Clean Energy Summit at the University of Nevada Las Vegas began on Monday afternoon with an inspiring speech by former President Bill Clinton [pictured above with Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) President John Podesta]. The Summit is sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), CAPAF, and UNLV. Clinton spoke before 900 Summit attendees.
President Clinton’s speech included a new and important idea: create energy independent areas. These places would rely on renewables, efficiency, and home grown energy. These places would then prove to the rest of the world that energy independence built on clean energy can occur, and would lead to economic growth. He touted the strong economic potential of renewable energy, citing an example from nearby California “Recently the state of California commissioned a study…which showed that building a 100 megawatt solar thermal plant would provide ten times the economic benefit of a comparable coal-fired power plant. It would create 4000 person-years of employment, and a net, NET, $628 million of economic benefit.” In pursuing clean energy projects worldwide, he suggested the following places:
Nevada has an ample supply of sun, wind, and geothermal energy, as well as an established commitment to clean energy. As Senator Reid attested, “The sun shines here all the time. The wind blows much of the time, and we’re one of the few states that has massive amounts of geothermal energy. That’s why I refer to Nevada as the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.” Tax incentives and upgraded transmission capacity could make the goals set forth for Nevada a reality. In extolling the potential of the state to serve as the model for clean energy and self-sufficiency, President Clinton said “Maybe what you should come out of this conference with is a proposal to have the national government, and investors all over America and everybody else say ‘Help make us the first completely self-sufficient clean energy state in the United States.’ I promise you, if you do it, it will rock the world.”
His speech also described a comprehensive agenda necessary to make the transition from high cost, high pollution fossil fuels to low cost, low pollution renewables and efficiency. He urged that the next president and Congress pursue policies that would lead to the following measures.
President Clinton also had suggestions for state governments. He urged them to adopt better building codes to increase efficiency, and undertake efficiency retrofits on a massive scale. They should establish clean energy jobs programs to train people to build and operate the clean energy technologies of the future. States should also convert landfills to energy production.
Guest post by Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress