News Releases

New State Program Encourages Residents to Convert Sunshine Into Electricity

RENO, Nev.
Nov 30, 2004

The Washoe Indian Tribe of Nevada and California has received a $33,185 rebate check from Sierra Pacific Power Company for investing in solar power -- the first rebate in Nevada resulting from a pioneering state program to encourage the use of renewable energy. The program is called SolarGenerations.

Sierra Pacific Power presented the rebate check to the Washoe Tribe on Nov. 30. at the company's Reno headquarters. State Senator Randolph Townsend, Danny Thompson, executive secretary and treasurer of the Nevada AFL-CIO, and Don Soderberg, chairman of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission participated in the event.

Another 55 similar small commercial and residential solar projects in Nevada, capable of producing nearly 200 kilowatts of electricity are under construction. These projects are eligible for a combined total of $1 million in rebates.

The program was created by Assembly Bill 431 -- the Solar Energy Systems Demonstration Program -- passed by the 2003 session of the Nevada State Legislature. The legislation was implemented by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada which authorized rebates for Nevadans who install photovoltaic (PV) systems.

"Nevada has some of the finest solar resources in the country," said State Senator Randolph Townsend. "Developing those resources will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and contribute to a cleaner environment."

Added Don Soderberg, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, "Renewable resources are a vital component of Nevada's energy portfolio and will aid in our battle against the volatile energy markets. I appreciate the Tribe's commitment to sustainable resources and advancing the use of renewable energy in Nevada."

Customers who install PV panels are eligible for a rebate of $5 per watt of electricity produced during the first year of the program. Two weeks after the SolarGenerations program was announced, Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power received enough applications to commit all residential and small business funding for the first year. (Year One Applications are still be accepted for schools and public buildings.)

The SolarGenerations program is the first of its kind administered by utilities in Nevada, according to Bob Balzar, director of energy efficiency and conservation for Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power and a member of the Nevada Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Task Force.

"The demonstration program lets people see how photovoltaics work. It will help offset energy costs for participants, and, importantly, it will allow us to achieve greater use of the state's abundant sunshine while reducing Nevada's reliance on fossil fuels," Balzar said.

Training Program Developed for PV Installers

Among the organizations supporting the legislation that created SolarGenerations was the Nevada State AFL-CIO, which has worked with the

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to develop a training program and training site for the workers who will install PV systems.

"This effort is a fine example of government, workers, consumers and companies joining forces to generate the kind of economic development that builds our communities, protects our environment and supports our families," said Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO.

Solar Panels Power Tribe's Environmental Offices

The Washoe Tribe installed photovoltaic panels on the roof of a small modular office building along Highway 395 south of Gardnerville that houses the Tribe's Environmental Department.

Solar energy produced by the photovoltaic panels, approximately 7.5 kilowatts, provides electricity to power the office's lights, computers, copiers and fax machine, according to Jimmy Levi, environmental program coordinator for the tribe. Photovoltaic systems convert sunlight directly into electricity.

The 2,826 square foot modular office building was donated to the tribe by the Veterans Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's General Assistance Program provided funding for moving and set-up. The building was positioned so the solar panels can absorb the maximum amount of sunlight. The panels were installed by Alternative Energy Solutions of Reno.

Running the Meter Backward

Levi said the tribe installed the non-polluting, sun-powered generating unit because of the tribal members' environmental commitment. Any excess power produced by the PV panels will flow into Sierra Pacific's electric distribution system, essentially running the meter backward to reduce the tribe's monthly electric bill.

The Solar Energy Systems Demonstration Program is administered by the Nevada Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Task Force. Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power Company, Sierra Pacific's sister utility in southern Nevada, market the PV rebate program to their customers as SolarGenerations.

For more information about SolarGenerations, visit or call 866-PV-Nevada (1-866-786-3823).

Headquartered in Reno, Nevada, Sierra Pacific Power Company is the principal utility for most of northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area of California. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra Pacific Resources (NYSE: SRP), which also is the holding company for Nevada Power Company, the electric utility for southern Nevada. Sierra Pacific Power also distributes natural gas in the Reno-Sparks area of northern Nevada. Other subsidiaries of Sierra Pacific Resources include the Tuscarora Gas Pipeline Company, which owns 50 percent interest in an interstate natural gas transmission partnership.

SOURCE: Sierra Pacific Power Company

CONTACT: Karl Walquist of Sierra Pacific Power Company, +1-775-834-3891

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