Titus lays out energy plan if elected

Gubernatorial candidate Dina Titus said Wednesday she will stabilize utility rates, improve air quality and create new economic opportunities in Nevada by focusing the state's efforts on renewable energy.

She said she would begin by convening a renewable energy summit within the first 100 days of her administration.

Titus, the Democratic Nevada Senate Minority Leader, said the summit would bring together business, renewable energy, utility and rural economic development representatives.

She said she wants to attract a major manufacturing plant in her first term as governor.

She said her administration would promote renewable energy over coal-fired and other fossil-fuel plants in Nevada and eventually export clean renewable energy to other Western states.

She took the occasion to criticize both her Democratic primary opponent, Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson, and the Republican front runner Rep. Jim Gibbon.

Gibson, she said, "is known as the half-million dollar man for the $527,000 he was paid by Nevada Power Company to help it fight a public takeover while utility rates were going through the roof in 2002."

Gibbons, she said, "has maintained the status quo by supporting tax breaks for utilities to continue producing energy from coal, natural gas and even nuclear energy." She said he backed 2001 legislation with $33.5 billion in energy breaks for utilities, oil companies and big business. In 2003, she said, he supported a bill authorizing another $10.5 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies, including $167 million in tax credits to power companies who build more nuclear plants.

She said nothing in Gibson's or Gibbons' records indicates they will do that.

"It was nice of the senator to endorse many of the concepts the mayor came out with last week," said Greg Bortolin, speaking for Gibson.

Gibbons spokesman Robert Uithoven was more expansive, pointing out that the congressman wrote the portion of this year's energy bill designed to encourage development of geothermal power and is chairman of the subcommittee which handles those issues.

"He is very interested in this issue but he believes the free market is the best way for Nevada and the U.S. to become more energy independent."

Uithoven said that is beginning to happen, pointing to the growing number of hybrid cars and a major solar power project now beginning development in southern Nevada.

"You can't just do a 180 shift overnight to renewable energy," said Uithoven. "We need companies to invest and consumers fed up with energy bills to create the demand."

"If we're going to become less reliant on foreign energy, we're going to have to let business explore and produce sources of energy here at home. You can't have it both ways," Uithoven said.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.


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