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Power District Breaks Ground on New Solar Project

MAY 29, 2015

 

The Lincoln County Power District broke ground in mid May on the first utility scale solar project in the County.The project will be a 90 kW photovoltaic project located on land owned by the Power District at U.S. 93 and Bullionville Road near Panaca.We are excited about this project for a variety of reasons.First and foremost, the project will help our rates remain as low as possible and will provide long term price stabilization.The Power District designed this project using its own staff, will build this project using its own staff, and received grant funding for the project from the Governor’s Office of Energy and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Because the cost of solar components have plummeted in recent years, by not having to hire contractors, and by receiving grant funding; the equivalent rate to the Power District for the proposed 90 kW solar photovoltaic project is expected to be approximately $0.04672/kWh.  At this rate level the project will be generating at a rate equal to or less than what the Power District has to pay for the power we purchase from the wholesale power markets in the summer months and this rate will not increase over time; it is essentially locked in for the life of the project.  The Power District is thankful for its talented staff and the commitment of the Governor’s Office of Energy and USDA to make this project possible and economical.

The 90 kW solar plant is expected to generate 152,876 kWhs each year during its 25 year life.  This is approximately the amount needed to power 10 average homes in Lincoln County for an entire year.  Although the amount generated may seem large, it is actually small in comparison to the amount of power the Power District must purchase each year on the wholesale power markets to supplement that which we receive from Hoover Dam.  This year we expect to purchase 11,120,000 kWhs of additional power beyond that which we will get from the Dam.  The amount of supplemental power we have to purchase increases each year as the drought conditions in the Colorado River basin worsen.  If the solar project proves successful, as we are confident it will, it is our plan to construct additional solar generation on the site.  The site is ideally located for solar production and ultimately could accommodate up to 1,000 kW.

The second reason we are excited about the project is that it will be the first community solar project in the State of Nevada.You may recall, in 2013 and 2014 we ran a series of articles on community solar in Ruralite.Under the concept of community solar, a public utility such as the Power District constructs a solar project at a central location and takes subscriptions from those customers wishing to participate in the project.  Credits are then applied in the form of energy offsets on the monthly electric bills of those customers who participated in the project.  Although the concept of a community solar project is hard to grasp at first, it is very similar to the concept of owning a share of water from an irrigation district.  At the end of our series of articles in Ruralite, we included a survey to assess our customer’s level of interest.  The survey showed that even with the higher cost of a small scale solar project that existed two years ago, our customers were interested.  Now with the cost barriers dramatically reduced we think the interest will be even greater.  Although we are still working out the details, we fully intend to offer a limited number of shares in the project to our customers who would like to participate.

For those who may be interested in participating, watch for additional announcements in Ruralite, on our website, and on our Facebook page for meetings to be held later in the summer.  In the meantime, if you may be interested and want to make sure you are invited in any meetings we have on the community solar project, email Dave Luttrell at dluttrell@lcpd1.com and we will make sure you are notified.

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