A greener Winnemucca

A greener Winnemucca

By Alli Lampshire- LHS Leadership Student Posted September 8, 2011

Note: This article provided by the Leadership class.

Dennis Kucinich said on September 27, 2005 “It is time for a sustainable energy policy which puts consumers, the environment, human health, and peace first.” To that extent, Humboldt County School District has been actively involved in the installation of solar panels. Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Jensen stated that during a conversation with NV Energy several years ago the possibility of installing solar panels was addressed. At that time, NV Energy offered an incentive of $5 per watt. After careful consideration, the district entered into an agreement with Hamilton Solar to install solar panels from them at a total project cost of 5.675 million dollars. After receiving the rebates from NV Energy reimbursing the district, the total cost to the district is approximatley six hundred thousand dollars. Initially, the offer sounded a little too good to be true, but in reality, the offer was just perfect enough for it to be true. Each watt cost five dollars and thirty-nine cents, NV Energy reimbursement check was for five dollars per watt. The project watt total was one thousand and twenty-three kilowatts, making the reimbursement check approximately 5.1 million dollars.

When questioned, NV Energy stated that the cost of the rebate to install the panels was less than the price of construction for a new energy plant. The panels have an eighty-five percent efficiency rate and a twenty-five year life. Over the course of the next ten years, the district will pay off the panels. Winnemucca is a fabulous place for solar panels, well for the most part. On the downside, most buildings are too old for the solar panels to be put on the roof, making it so parking lots have to be redone, a little bit of playground space was taken up, or some of the awesome sagebrush was ripped out. On the bright side, we have an abundant amount of space next to our schools for the panels to be grounded, creating shade for the children at the play ground, or some protection and shade for cars.

With solar panels installed at seven different schools around the county (Grass Valley Elementary School, Lowry High School Athletic Field, Lowry High School Parking lot, Paradise Valley Elementary School, Sonoma Heights Elementary School, French Ford Middle School, Winnemucca Junior High School, and the School District Office) the annual savings are projected to be about two hundred thousand dollars per year. The savings will go into the ‘general’ fund. The general fund sounds extremely vague. Before assumptions are made, know that approximately eighty-five percent of the general fund goes toward the school district’s fantastic employees’ pay checks. With the additional two hundred thousand dollars, the school district is hoping it will preserve two to three teaching positions per year.

Not only will the new green energy system maintain teaching positions to help our students’ future, it helps bump Nevada out of the lowest unemployment rate in history (for Nevada) and in our country. Also, renewable energy is anticipated to create numerous jobs in the next ten to fifteen years. Nevada has the prospect of being the leader of green energy. In other words, we can be the green state and have a wider variety of jobs (jobs besides casinos and mining). Humboldt County most likely is the greenest county in Nevada, having a total of eight sets of solar panels. Pershing County, Carson, Clark County, Eureka, and Lander County also have solar panels. Not as if being the greenest county should be a competition, but Clark County (at this point in time) will make it a very close race.

There were several accidental outcomes with the solar panels. For the die-hard Lowry fans, the newly installed panels take away from the buckaroo statue and the blue and gold ‘Lowry Buckaroo’s’ sign on the building. Sometimes when something is so great for a huge majority, we have to pay the price. Losing the obviousness of the statue and the sign on the building might be worth it. Only time can tell if saving two hundred thousand dollars a year was actually worth it or not. For the time being, let’s embrace the spectacular solar panels.

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