Behind The Battery Boom

After years of anticipation, the Tesla gigafactory opened just outside of Reno in 2016. In this series, KUNR explores everything from hiring efforts, the evolution of battery technology, infrastructure and workforce challenges for the region, and more. Our reporting on Tesla earned a 2016 regional Edward R. Murrow award for best small market radio news series from the Radio Television Digital News Association. 

Nevada Department of Transportation

With the Tesla gigafactory now officially open, we know that more businesses and more people are coming to Northern Nevada. That’s going to put a strain on roadways and transit. To learn what local officials are doing to plan ahead, our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with Lee Gibson. He’s the head of the Regional Transportation Commission, or RTC, in Washoe County. 

Natalie Van Hoozer

In the latest installment of our ongoing series, Behind the Battery Boom, we take a look at what happens when we have more lithium-ion batteries to dispose of. Reporter Amy Westervelt has that story.

Ken Lund/CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency is in charge of coordinating with the cities of Reno and Sparks, along with Washoe County, on land use planning. That includes conversations about resources, like water, and infrastructure, like roads and schools.

“One of the other pieces that we’ve really been prioritizing over the past four years or so is predicting population growth and employment growth and talking about where that’s going to happen in our community,” explains Kim Robinson, the agency’s executive director.

A Tesla-Backed Startup Wants To Remake Lithium Mining

Aug 15, 2016
www.pureenergyminerals.com

Exploration startups are putting stakes in the ground across Nevada's deserts as lithium prices spike. One company, Pure Energy Minerals, has even inked a deal with Tesla that could potentially provide lithium for their batteries. We spoke with the CEO of Pure Energy Minerals, Patrick Highsmith, about his project and what sets it apart. Below are excerpts of the conversation. It's part of our ongoing series "Behind the Battery Boom."

Tesla's Here, But What About The Workforce?

Aug 9, 2016
Julia Ritchey

One of the biggest promises Tesla has made to Nevada is its commitment to hire thousands of people for well-paid jobs at the gigafactory. In the latest installment of our series Behind the Battery Boom, reporter Amy Westervelt looks at how the company will deliver on that promise in the face of a looming labor shortage.

I’m standing in what will soon be the new advanced manufacturing lab at Truckee Meadows Community College. Jim New, the school’s dean of technical sciences, is showing me around.

EV Charging Stations: A Growing Patchwork

Aug 8, 2016
Steve Jurvetson, Flickr

As part of our ongoing series on Tesla, Amy Westervelt takes a look at the state of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and whether or not it’s easier to get around without gas these days. 

Business and construction are booming in Reno, and that means even more students for the already-overcrowded Washoe County School District. In the latest installment of our series Behind The Battery Boom, looking at Tesla's impact on Northern Nevada, we break down the complex relationship between economic development and local schools. 

Bob Conrad

The Tesla gigafactory has officially opened, but questions remain regarding how northern Nevada is preparing and responding to economic growth spurred by the company. To explore this issue for our series Behind the Battery Boom, we turn to our contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno who recently toured the plant.

Battery Tech: Lithium Ion And Beyond

Jul 28, 2016
Whitney Powell

As part of our series Behind the Battery Boom, we’re taking a look at a key element of the factory: batteries. Lithium-ion batteries to be exact, and whether the electric vehicle industry’s multi-billion-dollar bet on the technology will pay off.

Anh Gray

Our series “Behind the Battery Boom,” explores how Tesla is shaping the local landscape. Here in Northern Nevada, a group of electric car enthusiasts is working to build a bigger fan base.