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Plenty of people are interested in renewable energy, but can they access it?

Can they get jobs in it, save money on it, and benefit from its reduced pollution?

That was the focus of a recent NAACP training, which focused on energy justice for communities of color.

There are three bills related to it in the legislative session, and advocates say it's a civil rights issue.

“Black communities and low income communities when it comes to the environmental and energy justice fight are the first to be hit with detrimental impact,”  Alex Cherup, the first vice president for the Las Vegas NAACP, told KNPR's State of Nevada.

As an example, Cherup pointed to energy choices like coal burning power plants, which are more likely to be built in or near low income communities or communities of color. 

And at the same time, those communities are often not included in the discussion at the Public Utilities Commission or the State Legislature, Cherup said.

Hillerie Patton is the president of Dignitas Agency.

She hopes the three bills before the Legislature now, which aim to improve access to renewable energy sources and energy efficiency go, forward.

“Going after sound clean energy policy, whether it’s solar in Southern Nevada or geothermal in the north or wind… that is the right thing to do," Patton said, "I don’t think we can count on it in the federal landscape at this point as states are becoming leaders in this area I think that’s going to do nothing but help everybody have access.”

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Patton believes when more people have access to green energy sources and expanded energy efficient technology there will be more job opportunities.

"Green issues aren’t always first, but bringing people to these issues does nothing but change Nevada for the better" she said. 

One of the bills before the Legislature would allow communities to set up small solar power plants. Patton envisions allowing churches in the city's West Side to install solar power panels that could power dozens of homes. 

Guests

Alex Cherup, first vice president, Las Vegas NAACP; Hillerie Patton, president, Dignitas Agency

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