Vegas likes cleantech stakes
The subtitle of Senate leader Harry Reid’s Monday clean energy conference was ‘jobs’ and the unofficial subtitle was: ouch!
Nevada exists on mining and gambling, and neither is doing too great at the moment. So Vegas is chasing the money to green projects, envisioning solar photovoltaic and solar thermal plants popping up all over its desert to supply California and anyone else that wants clean power.
The alternative — no work. Union building trades unemployment is 50 percent and rising in Reno, the northwestern part of the state near the California border, and in the high 20s in the area around Vegas, where the big projects are counted on three fingers, AFL-CIO state Executive Secretary-Treasurer Danny Thompson said.
“There is not jobs scheduled until late 2010, and by then all of us could be homeless,” said unemployed Vegas plumber and pipe fitter Becky Swartzbaugh, whose apprentice is living with her.
The idea of a green Las Vegas could be amusing on the face of it — a monster energy-using city that gobbles water and is considering building a multi-billion-dollar pipeline to an acquifier up north going green?
But there are some green shoots — the mammoth CityCenter proejct by MGM Mirage is full of LEED qualifications, the city is trying to cut per capita water use by a third, and water cops are chasing down sprinkler users spilling water into the gutters. It’s a start.
In any case, building solar arrays will create work. Solar Millennium expects to create 1,600 building jobs and 180 permanent jobs for a 500 Mwatt solar thermal plant.
Photo: Steve Marcus/Reuters