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DESERT PATROL Lydia Ball aims to light up the famous Las Vegas sign using solar power. (and nonpartisan) organization dedicated to powering a clean-energy economy through education and engagement with policy makers, community leaders, and citizens on the economic benefits of sustainable energy. In addition to releasing her annual January report gauging Nevada's progress toward sustainability, Ball has made it her personal goal to light the famous "Fabulous Las Vegas" sign with solar power. "Las Vegas has a huge amount of solar potential, and people here really support solar energy," she says. "The sign is our iconic symbol, and I've got a plan that would use three solar trees staggered behind the sign, opposite the palm Free spirit: "My trees. I'm trying to work with Clark County to favorite book is Wild by Cheryl get the permits and see if they really want to Strayed, who do it. So far everybody loves the idea." goes on a Ball, who came on board as CEP's first fullthree-month time director in 2010, admits that she hasn't backpacking trip always been so eco-savvy. When the Sierra by herself." Commitment: "In Club hired her for her community organizing the US, Zion skills back in 2006, she didn't even know what National Park is the National Environmental Policy Act was. my favorite That first job was a crash course in environplace—I got mental issues, and Ball quickly found herself married there last June." drawn to energy issues. "Energy is connected all the way through our economy like a spider web," Ball says. "You can't pull one string without moving everything else." After fighting coal-fired power plants as campaign director for the Nevada Clean Energy Campaign, Ball joined CEP. Education has been one of her biggest hurdles: Some business owners initially dismissed clean energy as a tree-hugger's fad, but now through Ball's monthly "energy table" with industry, environmental, and citizen groups, people are looking more closely at the bottom line. "I've seen companies and residential homes see a return on their clean energy investment within five to seven years," she says. "After that, you have free energy, LYDIA BALL AND THE CLEAN ENERGY PROJECT ARE LEADING or a significantly decreased cost. In 10 years, natural gas LAS VEGAS TOWARD A MORE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE. BY BRET LOVE prices may be higher, but we know the sun is going to keep shining for free." Ball is excited to see what developments the 2013 legith an estimated 15,000 miles of lighted neon tubing through- islative session will bring. "Public-private partnership needs to happen," she out downtown, Las Vegas isn't the first place you'd think of for says. "Take the transmission line that goes from northern Nevada to southa Top 10 list of eco-friendly cities. But if Lydia Ball has her ern Nevada: Public utilities are partnering with the private companies that are building that line, and it's going to save money by allowing more renewway, that may change in 2013. Ball is executive director of the Clean Energy Project (CEP), a nonprofit able energy to be connected to the grid." V INSIGHT W 36 PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN REASON sunshine superwoman VEGASMAGAZINE.COM 036_V_SP_DP_Lydia_Win13.indd 36 1/2/13 3:12 PM