Another Solar Energy Boom in Reno - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Another Solar Energy Boom in Reno

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Standing in a parking lot at TMCCs Dandini campus on a cloudy, breezy Thursday, the college’s project manager Teresa Golden wishes for a different kind of weather: "Oh, sunny is always good, especially with solar panels!"

Just in time for the longer days with more sunshine, more places in Reno are now getting their energy from the sun. On various buildings on TMCC’s campus, there are a lot of solar panels. Today, the more sunshine the better…it’s all gobbled up by the panels, which pay back a bounty of savings. Teresa told us they get back in savings, “about $44,000 annually in energy costs."

Even though we’re blessed to have 300-plus days of sunshine, it’s been a slow climb for solar energy, but 2014 could be its year. Northern Nevada isn't quite as wide open or flat to make it a solar power paradise, but compared to before, the future is growing wild amid a sea of cells. Rich Hamilton of the non-profit organization “Black Rock Solar” told us, "Solar is more than catching on. It's racing ahead."

Black Rock Solar began at Burning Man…its first big project was powering “The Man” in 2007. To date, they have installed solar power at 75 non-profit organizations and educational institutions in Nevada at little to no cost. Black Rock Solar sets these up for non-profits, all funded from grants and through incentive programs at NV Energy. Rich says like any product, solar panels have improved and are finally more affordable. As he put it, “The technology has matured. Installation costs, the production and manufacturing costs have all come down dramatically since the early years."

At TMCC, the panels face a southerly direction, the angle that catches most of the sun's rays. We watched the energy poured in to a couple of huge inverters, converting the DC power to AC and sending it to the college’s electrical grid. The panels provide 200 kilowatts of electricity for the Dandini campus, even on a partly cloudy day. It provides about 20% of their electricity...a huge savings on their power bill.

The timing is right for a solar energy boom…energy costs are bound to rise, and workers need the jobs to build and install these. Good reviews from folks like TMCC’s Teresa Golden is goosing the new boom along. She calls the solar system there a money machine: "We're doing good. It offsets costs, and anything helps."

Rich Hamilton is just as bright about solar’s future in Nevada: "Every year's the year of solar. 2015's going to be better than 2014."

-written by John Potter

If your organization is interested in saving, click the link to Black Rock Solar here: www.blackrocksolar.org
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