Officials throw switch on solar panels |

Officials throw switch on solar panels

Brian Duggan/Nevada Appeal

Officials dedicated on Thursday a row of photovoltaic solar panels that now line the second story of the parking garage behind the state legislative building in Carson City.

The project, supported with part of the $8 million in federal stimulus given to the state for renewable energy improvements, included replacing fluorescent lamps with LED lights in the parking garage, which will save the state about $30,000 a year in energy costs. The solar panels will save $7,000 each year.

The project broke ground in September by contractor Reliant Electric, which is based in Reno.

Jim Groth, the director of the Nevada State Office of Energy, said the stimulus money is being used to retrofit 124 state buildings with renewable energy upgrades statewide.

“Nevada is in the top five states for expending those funds, putting the monies into local contractors here,” Groth said. “And people talk about whether the stimulus is working or not working. It was pretty hard to deny when you come up and you talk to actual contractors working on the job that wonder where else they’d be if they weren’t working on the facility. And the outcome will be savings to the state.”

NV Energy also provided a one-time rebate to the state of about $150,000 for the solar panels and about $20,000 for the new lighting, which automatically dim or brighten with motion sensors.

The annual power savings for the lighting and solar projects are estimated to be 300,000 kilowatt hours and 60,000 kilowatt hours respectively.

At the ceremony, Gus Nunez, the manager of the state Public Works Board, held a paper detailing energy usage for the capital from last month. It showed monthly energy usage of about 150,000 kilowatt hours in September had fallen to about 64,000 kilowatt hours in October when the new LED lights were turned on. He said he expected more savings now that the solar panels are up and running, too.

“Here’s the real thing,” he said. “It’s proof.”