Western Nevada College broke ground Wednesday on a solar energy project that is expected to save the college as much as $28,000 each year in electricity costs.
Black Rock Solar of Reno, a nonprofit corporation that seeks to expand the use of renewable energy, is working with WNC to install a solar panel system on the Carson City campus.
The 200-kilowatt array will be built on the western side of the 200-acre campus, behind the Aspen Building. The site is surrounded on three sides by undeveloped college property.
Upon completion of the project, WNC will receive an incentive payment of $940,000 from NV Energy to support the project. According to Marnee Benson, deputy director of Black Rock Solar, the project provides a $950,000 value at no cost to the college.
"Black Rock Solar is delighted that our array - one of the largest yet built for a Nevada school - will save Western Nevada College and its students hundreds of thousands of dollars over the coming years, at the same time assisting the school in meeting its goal of energy sustainability," she said.
"This collaboration offers many benefits to the college," said Dan Neverett, WNC vice president of finance and administrative services. "Economically, it makes sense for today and for the future. It allows the college to lower energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Mary Simmons, vice president of external affairs for NV Energy, said 149 schools statewide have reduced their power bills and carbon emissions with photovoltaic solar panels.
"We're pleased that NV Energy's SolarGenerations program makes solar power investments affordable for WNC and other educational institutions in Nevada," she said.
Neverett said the project directly supports the college's ongoing sustainability efforts. WNC President Carol Lucey signed a national climate commitment in 2009 to increase energy sustainability.
"This project demonstrates that we have and will continue to actively explore opportunities which support alternative energy generation and use," Neverett said.