New solar projects save money for High Desert Montessori School

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Updated: 8/31/2012 12:20 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- Reno's High Desert Montessori School has completed two solar energy projects through NV Energy's RenewableGenerations program that will put a dent in the school's monthly power bills.

Photovoltaic solar panels mounted on the roof and on shade structures will generate 79 kilowatts of electricity and are expected to produce about 142,000 kilowatt hours of power annually. Solar hot water collectors mounted on the roof will reduce the school's natural gas consumption by approximately 470 therms annually. The equipment, including 390 photovoltaic solar panels and four solar hot water collectors, was installed by the Clean Energy Center of Reno.

The High Desert Montessori School is the first in Nevada to install solar hot water heating through NV Energy's RenewableGenerations rebate program.

"The value of the project to High Desert Montessori School, as a public charter school in terms of energy savings, means that educational dollars from taxpayers will benefit students instead of utility costs - essential in budget cut times," said HDMS Board President Carl Meilbergen.

Added Assistant Principal Linda Aaquist, "Our solar projects will be incorporated into our science curriculum for kindergarten through the eighth grade. From engineering concepts to photosynthesis, the applications are here on our rooftop and on top of shade structures now."

"This project was a labor of love for the Clean Energy Center," said Matt Mareno of the Clean Energy Center. "It exemplifies our value system. It allowed us to impact the community in a positive way while reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change."
The installations are expected to reduce the school's annual power bill by approximately $17,000. In addition, the Montessori School is getting a $369,650 rebate from NV Energy to offset costs for the photovoltaic solar panels and an $8,949 rebate for the solar hot water installation. The school received a $15,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy also helped defray costs for the solar hot water project and a $20,000 grant from DOE for the solar photovoltaic installation.

The school is celebrating the new sustainable energy projects with a barbecue and bluegrass music on Friday, Aug. 31, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the school, which is located at 2590 Orvada Street in Reno. Joe Craven, entertainer-educator musician, and the Northern Nevada Bluegrass Association will provide entertainment at the solar potluck event, called "Ten Orbits Around the Sun: Celebrating Under the August Moon," which also celebrates the 10th anniversary of High Desert Montessori School's founding as a public charter school. Tickets and commemorative t-shirts are available through the school: 775-624-2800; guests may bring picnic food and low-back lawn chairs.

"Schools throughout Nevada have embraced solar energy, and projects have been incorporated in their science curriculum," said John Hargrove, NV Energy's manager of energy efficiency and conservation.

Hargrove said 177 schools statewide have installed photovoltaic panels capable of generating 13 megawatts of electricity, and they have received rebates from the RenewableGenerations program totaling nearly $64 million. Residential customers, small businesses and government agencies served by NV Energy are also eligible to participate in the program. See NV Energy's website for more details at www.nvenergy.com.

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