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Ivanpoh, Nevada solar farm (Photo: Flickr)

The Road To Solar Hell

Departing Governor Sisolak’s climate strategy is bizarre and reckless

By Norm Rogers, December 13, 2022 12:43 pm

Our departing governor Steve Sisolak had a Climate Strategy for Nevada. His plan to build a solar electric grid parallel to our existing natural gas-powered grid is bizarre and reckless. The new, multi-billion dollar solar grid does not replace the existing natural gas-powered grid because solar is unreliable as it fails at night and when it is cloudy.

For example, in July 2022, the sun was blocked extensively in Las Vegas by monsoon cloudiness, and at a time when electricity demand peaks due to air conditioning usage. Nevada’s natural gas plants had to make up for the absence of solar electricity. Not surprisingly, solar failed when it was most needed.

Every existing natural gas generating station must remain and new ones must be constructed as usage of electricity expands. The production of solar electricity is poorly matched with the rising demand for electricity. The new solar plants also require expensive batteries to store excess midday electricity for release in the early evening. Yet, the batteries wear out and must be replaced after seven years.

The Gemini project is just the beginning, and an expensive example, of a long series of solar plants that must be built to implement Sisolak’s plan.

The Gemini solar plant to be built north of Las Vegas will cost nearly $2 billion. It will have a $500 million battery system. This plant is approximately 80% subsidized by the federal and state governments. The Nevada state subsidies are not cash but a legal structure that ensures a low cost of money for solar developers. Even with massive subsidies, the electricity costs about three times more than using our existing natural gas plants. If the Republicans win in 2024 and repeal the subsidies, solar electricity will cost ten times more.

According to the climate doom lobby, carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels will create a future climate disaster. Since Asian emissions of CO2 are growing rapidly and are hundreds of times greater than Nevada’s emissions, Sisolak’s reckless plan will have no measurable effect on world CO2 emissions or on Nevada’s climate, even assuming that CO2 severely affects climate.


We also have the spectacle of state senator Chris Brooks, formerly the chairman of the state senate energy committee, working as a consultant on the Gemini solar project. How many politician’s relatives are benefitting from the solar empire is unknown. Trade unions are deeply protected by measures that assure them generous salaries and benefits.

California is far ahead of Nevada on the road to renewable energy hell. Consequently, some California homeowners pay fifty cents a kilowatt hour for electricity and suffer rotating blackouts. In Nevada we only pay twelve cents per kilowatt hour. The cost of electricity in Nevada will probably double by 2030.

It is ironic that James Hansen, the nation’s most important climate scientist, and a fierce advocate for CO2 reduction said that renewable energy is the equivalent of the “Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.” He advocates CO2-free and reliable nuclear electricity. But nuclear has been severely crippled by environmentalist attacks. Natural gas is the solution that works for Nevada.

Some defenders of the Sisolak energy nightmare will claim that we must continue down that road because Article 4, Section 39 of the state constitution mandates the pursuit of renewable energy. That amendment to the constitution was passed in 2020 helped by ten million dollars in spending to influence voters. The money came from an eccentric California billionaire. But, Section 39 is not an energy suicide pact. The legislature has the ability to define how Section 39 is implemented.

One hopes that the new governor, Joe Lombardo, and the legislature will derail the solar train as the Sisolak plan lacks a purpose. Sisolak’s “climate strategy” is simply a bureaucratic empire, or a gigantic slush fund, that is kept out of sight as it does not appear on the state government’s books.

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