Boulder City Ballot Question #2

Solar Panel Field Boulder City, Nevada

At its regular meeting on April 12, 2022, the City Council approved a ballot question regarding clean energy technologies and natural gas be approved for use within the Eldorado Valley Transfer Area. This item is Ballot Question 2 on the 2022 General Election for Boulder City, and you can see the explanation and arguments for and against passage on your ballot or the City’s website HERE.

This ballot question would continue the practice of leasing land in the Eldorado Valley for alternative energy production and storage. The current leases in the Eldorado Valley net the city roughly $18 million per year, however, that fluctuates from year to year. Right now, of those funds, the General Fund receives $13 million and Capital Improvement $5 million.

The lease revenue helps keep property taxes lower than elsewhere in Clark County.

When the City Charter was modified in 1995 to permit alternative energy usage in the Eldorado Valley, it was not known at that time what types of energy this would involve. The technology is rapidly changing and evolving, and the City Charter simply couldn’t predict what uses would be possible in 2022.

Adoption of this measure would allow for some of these emerging technologies to have a place in the Eldorado Valley. Not only that, but it would allow the natural gas generation facility operated by SDG&E to continue to stay online. If the measure fails, it will need to be shut down in 2027.

Natural Gas

This one piece of this matters in particular because solar energy is, of course, not generated 24/7. It is weather dependent and naturally is not created during the night hours. Natural gas facilities stabilize those energy gaps when solar power generation cannot handle the load on its own.

Now, we know that it is a highly sensitive fact that the power that is generated by the solar fields does not run to Boulder City. We receive all our power from the dam. However, having energy flow consistently into the system does benefit us because it helps prevent power outages in the overall southwestern region, which could potentially affect us.

Also a factor are the financial contributions we receive from the natural gas plant. The lease revenue on it alone is annually about $1.3 million for that lease, which is the highest per-acre rate currently in the valley. Of those funds, 20% goes to the City’s current operating budget, another 20% to the capital improvement budget, and the balance is split between these two categories as the City Council sees fit based upon staff recommendations.

Beyond that, specifically, SDG&E does a lot in our community as a civic partner. Over the years, they have contributed funds locally to:

  • Emergency Aid Boulder City – food and financial assistance
  • Lend A Hand of Boulder City
  • Boulder City Fire Dept. – community risk reduction projects
  • Boulder City Parks and Recreation – youth sports
  • Boulder City Hospital Foundation
  • Dan Leach Memorial Fund – after school programs for kids
  • BC Sunrise Rotary – Drug & Alcohol-free grad night
  • Breaking the Cycle – BC drug court intervention program
  • Boulder City High School – robotics program
  • Boulder City High School – Eagle’s closet, food pantry, etc.
  • BC Museum & Historical Assoc.
  • Southern Nevada Veterans Home

Large companies have deep pockets, and you could argue that not only do they donate but should donate to the communities in which they operate. Speaking to you readers for a moment as someone who has been personally involved in or on the Board of several of these organizations, SDG&E has always given above and beyond and is a stellar philanthropic partner to Boulder City.

In early 2020/21, there was one other company that did express interest in constructing a new gas power plant. However, since it was not an approved use, no official proposal was brought forth.

Other Clean Technologies

Some of these technologies are not without controversy. For example, batteries contain chemicals and compounds that are known to be harmful to both humans and wildlife. While the new technologies promise clean air for Boulder City residents, there is concern about other potential environmental impacts.

Boulder City is in a unique position as it is the largest city in Nevada (in terms of total square miles of property within city limits). As such, it has the capacity and attractiveness that energy companies are seeking in order to locate some of their business interests here. Another advantage to locating their business in Nevada is the lower minimum wage than other states like California and certain tax advantages for corporations as well.

The residents of Boulder City have a chance this election cycle to decide some of the future of our town and how we wish to use the resources we have to their best use for the city.

Look for our next column on these ballot questions next Sunday, and in case you missed it, we did a deep dive on Question 1 which you can read more about HERE.

Authors: Tina Cluver and Jean Widner

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