News Releases

Solar Energy Powers Reno Seventh-day Adventist Church

Aug 13, 2009

Media Contacs:

Faye Andersen, NV Energy (775) 834-4822
Tom Clark, Black Rock Solar (775) 813-0523
Jamii Uboldi, R&R Partners (775) 336-4558

New solar panels on the roof of the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Reno are generating 50 kilowatts of electricity for the church and the adjoining Silver State Adventist School on West 4th Street in Reno. It is largest solar array ever installed on a Nevada church.

"Our eventual goal is to produce as much energy as we'll use on an annual basis,"said Pastor Steve McCandless, who leads the 350-member congregation. He said the panels generate enough power to serve up to two-thirds of the facility's electricity needs.

Members of the church gathered on August 13 to dedicate the project, which was made possible through a program created by the Nevada State Legislature and managed by NV Energy, and by the generosity of Black Rock Solar, a nonprofit spin off of the Burning Man project. Labor and materials for the project were provided by Black Rock Solar, and costs for the installation were offset by a $230,000 rebate from NV Energy's SolarGenerations program. 

The photovoltaic panels on the church's south-facing roof are expected to reduce the facility's annual electric bill by approximately $13,500 or $337,500 over the expected 25-year life of the panels, according to John Hargrove, project manager for energy efficiency and conservation at NV Energy.

The church has also reduced its electricity costs by retrofitting the school's gymnasium with energy efficient lights and motion sensors that automatically turn off the lights when the gym is unoccupied. 

"Since the start of the SolarGenerations program six years ago, 2.7 megawatts of solar energy have been installed statewide at 467 locations and over $10.1 million in financial incentives has been paid to participants,"Hargrove said."Due to the success of the program, it's been expanded by the Nevada State Legislature to include small wind turbines and hydroelectric projects on farms and ranches."

"Installing renewable energy can help churches, schools and other community institutions put more of their limited resources into programs, instead of their power bills. And since solar lasts for decades, these panels will still be saving money when the children attending today are bringing their own children in the future,"said Tom Price, executive director of Black Rock Solar.

The Seventh-day Adventist congregation also plans to install photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine to generate electricity for an old stone house next to the church that's been gutted and is being rebuilt as the Stone House Resource and Education Center (SHREC). Besides offering classes designed to help people lead healthy lifestyles, the SHREC expects to offer classes about alternative energy, Rev. McCandless said.

Black Rock Solar is focused on speeding the adoption of renewable energy by delivering low or no cost solar power to communities in need. Employing an innovative and collaborative approach to solar project development, Black Rock Solar extends Burning Man's spirit of creativity and environmental stewardship to affect real environmental change, according to Price.

This is the 12th completed project for Black Rock Solar, Price said. The group has installed solar panels at Natchez Elementary School in Wadsworth; the elementary, middle and high schools in Gerlach; Pershing County General Hospital in Lovelock; Shelby High School in Shelby, MI;  the UNR Joe Crowley Student Union; the new Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno; the Pyramid Lake Tribal Health Clinic in Nixon, and the Lovelock Elementary School.  Together, the cumulative lifetime energy savings from these projects is expected to be more than $2.4 million.