As a big fan of bringing renewable energy technology to schools for both clean energy production and educational opportunities, I was very glad to read that my former Senator Harry Reid is proposing legislation that would allow school districts in Nevada and five other Western states to issue no-interest bonds for building renewable energy installations at their schools. According to the Las Vegas Sun (the better of the city’s two papers),
The Renewable Schools Energy Act of 2006 would allow Nevada school districts to issue $90 million in the zero-interest bonds. Arizona and Utah could issue $60 million each, and Montana, Idaho and Colorado could sell $30 million each.
School districts would compete for a share of the bond issuing authority. The money could be spent on projects such as solar panels or wind turbines, which could cut utility bills in growing school districts while teaching students about alternative energy sources.
“I like this bill a lot because it literally is a win-win for everybody – students, taxpayers and the environment,” Reid told reporters. “Nevada school districts, like others in the West, are certainly suffering from high energy prices, and all we have to consider is every dollar that we save on energy is a dollar we can spend” on teachers or other school needs.
The bill offers “a great potential for reduction of rising energy costs, but the learning opportunity for students is most important,” said Rose McKinney-James of the Nevada Renewable Energy and Conservation Task Force.
The focus on Western states may suggest election-year politics, but, boy, we could use more politicking like this. Hopefully, this program, if approved, will serve as a pilot for the rest of the country. Iowa’s had success with installing wind power at a few schools, so maybe focusing on the educational opportunities created by renewable technology will spark our leaders’ imaginations.