The rebate money, part of the company’s Renewable Generations Program established by a state legislative mandate in 2003, is meant to repay some of the cost of construction materials, said NV Energy spokesman Karl Walquist. With no out-of-pocket expenditures for the school district, the solar installation was entirely funded by NV Energy rebates, according to the district.
Although the solar project has been in operation since December, the school district celebrated the project’s official unveiling this week by inviting several community partners to Reed High School.
The district pulled out all the stops with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the chilly afternoon, complete with the high school band playing in the background and representatives from the offices of Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV). Assemblyman Skip Daly (D-Sparks) and Sparks Mayor Geno Martini were also present.
The installation of 4,872 solar panels will provide the district with about $270,000 in annual savings on its energy bills. The savings will free up money for classroom essentials, educator salaries and student textbooks and materials.
Hamilton Solar, the company that installed the units, estimates the project will prevent 1,810 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted from traditional energy sources each year. The Reed High project is expected to account for 60 to 65 percent of the campus’ energy use, covers five acres and is the largest shade structure of its kind in the state, according to Hamilton Solar.
In order for the district to get the rebate check, the project had to be finished in a shorter than usual time frame, according to Hamilton Solar.
“It’s been a great partnership,” said Ken Grein, president of the Washoe County School District board of trustees.
Morrison said the project fits with the district’s focus on celebrating creativity. It allows the district to focus on sciences and math and excites students about the possibilities of the future. The cost savings also allows the district to reinvest in academic programs, he said.
“Today is a celebration,” Morrison said.
Martini said he was thankful that the city of Sparks was able to participate.
“This is wonderful,” Martini said. “We are very pleased to have had a small hand in this coming to fruition.”
John Hargrove of NV Energy said Nevada had the most solar power generation per capita than any other state.
“Schools are the leader in this category for installations,” Hargrove said.
Of the 150 solar projects in the state, 85 are in northern Nevada.