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HBO Doc On Renewable Energy Focuses Heavily On Nevada


A number of Nevada lawmakers and lobbyists were featured in the HBO film, "Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution."

Filmmaker Jamie Redford spent a couple of years visiting vastly different parts of the U.S. to explore renewable energy.

His trip took him to a small, conservative Texas town that is totally renewable - to a community organization in Buffalo, New York that is retrofitting houses in low-income neighborhoods – to… the state of Nevada.

In fact, our state represents both the high and low of the film, starting with the PUC decision in December 2015 to end net metering for rooftop solar, and ending with the passage of a raft of clean energy bills at the 2017 Legislature.

Redford said he called the film "Happening" because that was a word that was said again and again in reference to renewable energy. 

"The economic forces that are at play now are very similar to all of the curvatures you see with economic changes in the past with things like aviation, telecommunication, the internet, the digital explosion, when you have these technological shifts one of the core things is: they're better and they're cheaper," he said.

Assemblyman Chris Brooks authored the bill to restart net metering for rooftop solar. He said renewable energy will be the winner in the long run and Nevada needs to keep its leadership position.

"I don't want to see us give up that leadership position," Brooks said, "We innovate here in the state of Nevada and there is no reason why we shouldn't be an innovative state when it comes to energy."

Obviously, Nevada is known for its sunshine, which puts the state at the forefront of solar power, but Brooks said Nevada also has some of the best geothermal energy sources. It also has high tech companies that have either embraced using clean energy or are working to improve the technology, like Tesla which is working on batteries to better store energy.

Redford said the move to renewable energy is inevitable and accelerating that move is vital.

“We have what we need to move this country towards renewable energy even to 100 percent renewable energy in the next 25 years,” he said. 

He doesn't believe the U.S. should let market forces outside the country dictate the future of our energy.

Redford agreed that renewable energy has become a political football and that it has become something Republicans feel they can't embrace for fear that they'll be accused of crossing to the other side.

"This is an unnecessary and stubborn dividing point that I think is going to erode because I think the jobs argument is so strong that it is going to create its own momentum," he said.

In the end, Redford believes the economic forces will push clean energy ahead whether it is politically prudent for some people or not.

Assemblyman Chris Brooks; Jamie Redford, Filmmaker 

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)