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Veterans Day Guest Blog: The Cost of Doing Nothing

by Nevada State Senator Pat Spearman

“Stores are closed. Cell service is failing. Broadband Internet--gone. 
Hospitals are operating on generators, but rapidly running out of fuel. Garbage is rotting in the streets, and clean water is scarce as people boil water stored in bathtubs to stop the spread of bacteria; planes can’t fly, trains can’t run, and gas stations can’t pump fuel. This is the “nightmare scenario” that lawmakers have been warning you about.” (The Hill, May 2015)

The scenario described in the opening paragraph is more than hypothetical hyperbole, and demonstrates the need to talk about our energy future in conjunction with our national security. According to a 2012 report from the National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences (2012) utility substations were “the most vulnerable to terrorist attack.” In addition to the societal chaos this could cause, the economic cost of such an attack to our utility infrastructure could range between $243 billion to $1 trillion dollars according to testimony given to Congress (2016). Analysis from Cambridge University (2015) concludes that if foreign enemies attacked the electric grid it would affect 15 states and leave more than 93 million people without power. A coordinated grid attack, and the economic devastation it would cause, could not only cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but lives, as medical facilities and their lifesaving abilities are compromised. 

So, on this Veteran’s Day, let us remember that national security and energy are entwined both abroad and at home. We know that six in ten soldier deaths in Iraq and four in ten soldier deaths in Afghanistan occurred in the protection of oil resources, warranting greater development and integration of our domestic renewable energy resources. But, protecting Americans at home from threats to our energy security is also critical. Creating more diversity in transmission options and grid modernization are two pivotal ways to protect against this type of cyber terrorism.

We do not have the luxury of waiting to correct these security vulnerabilities; we must act now with bold and progressive energy policies that strengthen both our economy and our security. Increasing power generation options, for consumers, through renewable energy and clean energy industries help reduce vulnerability and increase our national security profile. Three courses of action by the legislature could facilitate creating a robust energy strategy.

First, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada should adopt appropriate guidelines to implement community solar to create multiple distribution hubs around our communities.  Second, the 2017 Nevada Legislature pass a bill to authorize Nevada’s uncommitted Renewable Generations funding to promote new energy technologies that will provide options to diversify our energy delivery systems. Finally, all International Energy Conservation Codes (IECC) enacted after June 1, 2017 should include measures to reduce energy demand and the need to expand traditional grid operations. These measures provide a path for production diversification and provides the consumer expanded choice options for energy production.

The cost of doing nothing will continue to leave us vulnerable to the risks associated with energy delivery both at home and abroad. As we honor our veterans today, let us commit to moving Nevada and our nation to greater energy independence through stable, reliable domestic clean energy, and to greater energy security through a diverse, modern and redundant energy delivery grid. 



Dr. Pat Spearman resides in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Dr. Spearman holds several accredited degrees; a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Political Science from the Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA; a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from The Seminary of the Southwest; and a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) from Walden University.

Dr. Spearman is an Ordained Minister, former Pastor, and serves on the Global Social Justice Ministry Team of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, Retired Lieutenant Colonel (U.S. Army), former part-time lecturer at the University of Louisville, and a Nevada State Senator representing Senate District 1.

Dr. Spearman has most recently served as a member of Governor Brian Sandoval's New Energy Industry Task Force. She has also served as Chair of the Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, Vice Chair of Government Affairs, member of Revenue & Economic Development, Commerce Labor & Energy, Health and Human Service, and Transportation committees in the Nevada State Legislature.  She also serves as the Chair of Active Military and Veterans Affairs subcommittee for the Counsel of State Governments, member of the Energy Resource Task Force, and the Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee of the National Conference of State Legislators Her doctoral study, Using Sustainable Development as a Competitive Strategy, provided her the opportunity to gain professional and academic expertise to facilitate improvements in the rural electric industry.

Dr. Spearman is also an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She enjoys, travel, learning about different cultures, music, and spending time with her family.



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