Solar Applications Approved by PUC of Nevada

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved 402 applications for customer- installed solar energy projects in Nevada that could eventually produce up to 1,900 kilowatts (kW) of renewable energy. Photovoltaic panels have been installed on 42 homes in northern Nevada and 25 homes in southern Nevada, and another 121 projects for Year 2 are under construction.

Customers who install photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight into electricity could earn $3 per watt of electrical capacity or up to a total of $5.7 million in rebates. Among those eligible to participate in the rebate program are residential customers, small businesses, public buildings and schools. Approved Year 3 projects can come online as soon as July 1, 2006, according to Bob Balzar, director of energy efficiency and conservation at Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power Company. The two utilities administer the state’s solar demonstration program, which is marketed to customers as “SolarGenerations.” The Nevada State Legislature created the program in 2003, and thus far Nevadans have installed 378 kW of solar energy. “In the beginning there was some red tape involved in this that made it tough because we were learning,” said PUC Chairman Don Soderberg, “but everyone worked hard to cut that red tape and make it easier for folks to get into this program. All the hard work is evident by the fact that this program has been so successful.” He acknowledged PUC Staff, the Nevada Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Task Force and the two utilities for their work. To be eligible for rebates, projects approved by the PUC of Nevada for the third year of SolarGenerations must be complete by June 30, 2007. Since the start of the program in 2004, more than $1 million in rebates has been paid to participants, who can also earn credits on their monthly electric bills if they generate more power than they use. Up to $4.8 million could be paid to second-year participants whose applications were approved in 2005. “SolarGenerations has proven to be a great program because it gives Nevada consumers the opportunity to personally invest in renewable energy and in the future of our state,” said Rebecca Wagner, energy advisor to Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn. Residential rebates are capped at 5 kW or $15,000, and small businesses, public buildings and schools can earn rebates for up to 30 kW or $90,000 per installation. The rebates cover approximately 30 percent of the costs for installing a photovoltaic system, Balzar said, adding that customers who install solar energy may also be eligible for federal tax credits. The Clark County School District earned a $250,000 rebate from Nevada Power Company in June 2005 for installing photovoltaic panels on the roofs of four elementary schools that are capable of generating a total of approximately 50,000 watts of electricity. In addition, those installations feed information into computers in science classrooms where pupils learn about renewable energy. “We are thrilled that the PUCN approved the solar application, which will help to encourage consumer awareness and use of renewable energy,” said Bob Balzar, director of energy conservation programs for Sierra Pacific Resources. “The hope is that this program will contribute to increased demand for alternative energy sources, thus leading to systems that become more affordable for everyday consumers.”
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