News Releases

Sierra Pacific Resources creates new partnership, invests $500,000 for new renewables degree program at University

May 8, 2007

Energy company, the Redfield Foundation and Ormat Technologies launch new workforce development model and innovative program withCollegeofEngineering

Contact: Sue Putnam, Public Relations Director
(775) 784-1169

Sierra Pacific Resources
Faye I.,
(775) 834-4822, (775) 848-4822 (mobile)

RENO, Nev.â€" Sierra Pacific Resources Foundation has donated $500,000 to create an industry-education partnership that will enable the College of Engineering to develop an undergraduate program in sustainable engineering.  The renewable energy program will start as an interdisciplinary minor program at the University in the fall of 2007.

"The goal of this program is to propel the University and the state of Nevada into an alternative energy leadership role,"said College of Engineering Dean Ted Batchman. "Sierra Pacific currently employs more than 50 graduates from all disciplines of our College in their engineering division, and we believe this will attract new students and produce top graduates."

Energy officials say the nation is grappling with many pressing energy issues. In response, renewable energyâ€" or green power â€" is receiving increased attention as one possible solution to those complicated issues. The use of power sources such as solar, geothermal, wind, biomass and other fuels have the potential to reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels and provide some price stability forcustomers amid the volatile cost of commodities like natural gas.

"Sierra Pacific has a long tradition of working with the University's College of Engineering and the geothermal industry here in northern Nevada,"said Walter Higgins, chairman and CEO of Sierra Pacific Resources. "This unique industry-education partnership will not only further development of the all-important renewables field, but should help serve the energy needs of Nevada far into the future."

The partnership is expected to create a program that's an international leader in geothermal and other renewable energy research, education and outreach. The University's first step is to hire faculty to lead the program beginning with the fall, 2007 semester.

The Redfield Campus will be the site of the Renewable Energy Center with the help of SPR, the Redfield Foundation and Ormat Technologies.  Some planned research activities include geothermal development, use of other renewable energy to produce hydrogen, the advancement of new power cycles for more efficient production of electrical power and the production of biodiesel fuel from waste and algae. 


Headquartered in Nevada, Sierra Pacific Resources is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries are Nevada Power Company, the electric utility for most of southern Nevada, and Sierra Pacific Power Company, the electric utility for most of northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area of California. Sierra Pacific Power Company also distributes natural gas in the Reno-Sparks area of northern Nevada.  The Sierra Pacific Foundation distributes charitable contributions through both utilities throughout their northern Nevada and northeastern California service areas.

Nevada's land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has more than 16,000 students and four campuses with Cooperative Extension education programs in all Nevada counties. The University is listed as one of the country's top 150 research institutions by the Carnegie Foundation, and is home to America's sixth-largest study abroad program and the state's medical school.