President Barack Obama, speaking at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada today, thanked military personnel and Nevada officials for their efforts on behalf of the state and the nation, and joked about his statement on Monday when he said "you can't take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer's dime." The statement angered some, including the mayor of Las Vegas who demanded an apology. Today, Obama said "there's nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week."

But much of the president's speech was about renewable energy, and touted the base's solar energy system. "Right now, we're standing near the largest solar electric plant of its kind in the entire Western Hemispher," said Obama. "More than 72,000 solar panels built on part of an old landfill provide 25 percent of the electricity for the 12,000 people who live and work here at Nellis.  That's the equivalent of powering about 13,200 homes during the day." He said the project created 200 jobs and will save the Air Force $1 million per year.

"In these last few months" he said, "the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has saved or created nearly 150,000 jobs -- jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, making homes and buildings more energy efficient."

Obama said that a renewable energy revolution is one of the pillars for a new foundation for prosperity. "America produces less than 3 percent of our electricity through renewable sources of energy like wind and solar," he said. "In contrast, Denmark produces 20 percent of their electricity through wind.  We pioneered solar technology, but we've fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in generating it, even though they get less sun than we do."

Obama said that in the past four months, more progress has been made in creating new sources of clean energy than in the past three decades.


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Wayne Hanson  |  Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government