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New Hydroelectric Project Generating Power in Nevada's Big Smoky Valley

Aug 11, 2010

Karl Walquist (775) 834-3891

First to Receive HydroGenerations Rebate 

The first hydroelectric project to earn a rebate from NV Energy's HydroGenerations program has been completed in central Nevada, and the construction of two more is expected to begin soon.

The Young Brothers Ranch, owned by Ralph and Paul Young, received a $232,500 rebate from NV Energy to help offset construction costs of the 93-kilowatt Home Ranch hydroelectric plant in the Big Smoky Valley about 17 miles south of Austin.

A 10-inch diameter steel pipe captures water from the Santa Fe and Shoshone creeks in the Toiyabe Mountain Range above the ranch and delivers it to a small powerhouse that converts the water’s energy into electricity that’s fed into the electric distribution system that serves the ranch. After it exits the powerhouse, the water is returned to the Kingston Creek drainage.  Ralph Young said the energy generated by the plant should reduce the ranch’s electric bill by $5,000 to $7,000 per month.

According to John Owens, director of customer renewable generation and energy efficiency for NV Energy, HydroGenerations is part of the utility's RenewableGenerations program, a rebate program created by the Nevada State Legislature to encourage Nevadans to invest in small solar, wind and hydroelectric power generation. Funding for HydroGenerations comes from a small charge ($0.00005 per kilowatt hour of electricity usage) that's included in everyone's electric bill. The HydroGenerations program is available only to agriculture customers.

An additional 175-kilowatt hydroelectric plant is planned by Young Brothers Ranch utilizing water from their Kingston Creek pipeline, and a 225-kilowatt hydroelectric plant will be built on another Big Smoky Valley ranch. Rett Jesse, the CEO of Nevada Controls, LLC, of Carson City, who is the contractor for all three projects, said construction is scheduled for the fall. The Young Brothers Ranch projects are both in Lander County; the third project is located in Nye County.

Since the start of the RenewableGenerations program six years ago, 663 renewable energy projects, capable of generating 4.7 megawatts of electricity, have been installed statewide. Of the total, 623 produce electricity from photovoltaic solar energy, Owens said, adding that $17.2 million has been paid to customers in renewable energy rebates.

For more information about the program,