By Miranda Lamb

Miranda Lamb
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto visits with Kyle Donohue of the Lincoln County Power District at the electric vehicle charging station at the Y near Panaca.

For the second time in the last few weeks, Lincoln County got a visit from a prominent elected official. Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto stopped by the Y Service on July 1 to check out Panaca’s part in Nevada’s Electric Highway. New electric vehicle charging stations are available at the location.

Cortez Masto introduced four bills on June 30 that support efforts to address climate change by decreasing carbon emissions.

Cortez Masto explained, “At the end of the day, it’s about putting together a package that really focuses on what we’re doing here in the state of Nevada on innovation when it comes to green technology and cleaner-burning fuels. That’s where we want to be.”

The first bill, The Zero-Emissions Transportation Commision and National Strategy Act, mandates the Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy to create a joint working group. This group will strategize and address areas where departments can conjoin and become more environmentally efficient such as placing more charging stations while building highways.

The Clean Fuel Infrastructure Act allows all charging equipment and some alternative fuels to obtain a tax credit up to 30 percent of the cost of the property until 2021, with each electric charging station counted as one single property.

The Greener Transportation for Communities Act allows zero-emissions infrastructure to qualify for tax-exempt bonds because they align with public interest.

The Green Spaces, Green Vehicles Act permits the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service to infrastructure to build infrastructure for charging and refueling.

“Some of the bills are focused on the electric charging stations and electric vehicles and buses. We need to give them an opportunity to utilize their vehicles as they travel through our state. Like here at this station, you have a partnership with the private sector and state, locals coming together and identifying locations where we can site these. That’s part of it.”

Cortez Masto continued, “Part of it is making sure that our federal government is thinking this far into the future and strategizing on how we can address this. Another part of it is to incentivize for tax credits. There’s a lot of investment tax credits that can come into counties, the private sector, that maybe want to invest in this new technology and to give them that opportunity.”

The senator said part of the effort allows local governments to utilize bonding capabilities to create these types of structures.

“It’s a combination of things to incentivize and make sure our partners, whether they’re at the federal level, local, state, are working together to really bring this forward. It’s going to be a game changer for Nevada. I want us to be on the forefront of it. I want us to be looking toward the future and this new technology, particularly when it comes to electric vehicles, clean-burning fuels and reducing our carbon footprint.”

A charging station in Alamo is next on the list. Then the plan is to expand to roads like I-15 and I-80. Cortez Masto said her goal is to have the federal government invest in research that will create additional similar projects. She wants to make sure that research facilities at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the University of Nevada, Reno, continue to be funded.

She believes the initiative will create new jobs and boost the economy and that stations will allow people with such vehicles to visit Lincoln County and other small communities. She has nicknamed Nevada “The Innovation State.”