Energized Granholm pushes Biden jobs plan, clean energy in Las Vegas

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Wade Vandervort

Gov. Steve Sisolak and U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm attend the Clean Energy Jobs & Justice Forum at North Las Vegas City Hall Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Thursday, June 10, 2021 | 6:45 p.m.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm touted Nevada as a leader in clean energy during a visit on Thursday, calling the state a test case on how to pass renewable energy legislation that can also provide jobs.

She was in town to push for President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, an omnibus infrastructure package at the center of debate in Washington.

“I feel like our hair is on fire in making this happen quickly,“ Granholm said. “People are out there hurting, and they need assurances.”

As part of her visit to Nevada, Granholm took part in a roundtable with state leadership, including Gov. Steve Sisolak and Rep. Steven Horsford, whose district makes up much of North Las Vegas and a large portion of the state’s rural areas.

“All you need to do is walk in the building and look outside and see that sun shining and know that we have a lot of renewable energy potential,” Sisolak said.

Horsford and others at the event said that jobs created in the renewable energy industry need to focus on equity.

“I also want to ensure, as I have said before, (that) as we create these jobs we do it for all Americans, by including Black, Latino, Asian-American and tribal communities who far too often do not experience the same job opportunities as their counterparts,” Horsford said.

Also in attendance was state Sen. Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, who had sponsored an omnibus clean energy bill during the recent legislative session that invested in the state’s energy transmission grid and in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

That bill, which Granholm called a “landmark,” was signed into law by Sisolak earlier Thursday. It encourages provider NV Energy to build out transmission lines around the state that would allow Nevada to purchase and sell energy across state lines. 

“Nevada is the geographical center of the Western United States,” Sisolak said. “We stand poised to be the keystone in the next chapter of the western electrical grid — a chapter that is cleaner and more resilient in the face of climate change.”

The American Jobs Plan would expand drastically on the work done under that bill, including by investing $100 billion in the country’s electricity transmission system and $174 billion in national electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The question now is twofold: Will the American Jobs Plan pass, and if it does, what will its final form look like? Talks between the Biden administration and a Republican coalition of senators led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito broke down Wednesday. 

Horsford said that negotiations were still ongoing and that he thinks a deal is close in the Senate.

“The bottom line is, we need to get this done for the American people,” Horsford said. “This is about jobs that need to be created now and into the future that are going to help us recover from this pandemic and the disproportionate impact that it has had particularly on women and on people of color.”

Sisolak was blunt when discussing what he thought the impact of clean energy investments could mean for the state’s post-pandemic economy.

“Clean energy and climate action are intrinsically linked to Nevada’s economic recovery and workforce opportunity,” Sisolak said. “They all go hand-in-hand.”