Truckee youth volunteers time, raises funds for solar at town’s animal shelter |

Truckee youth volunteers time, raises funds for solar at town’s animal shelter

Bella Bono with an adoptable dog named Alice. Bella volunteers at the shelter walking dogs and helping at the clinic.
Courtesy photo |


An earlier version of this story indicated the entire project added up to about a $6,000 value at wholesale. In actuality, the value is $20,000. The Sun regrets the error.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Truckee High School student and volunteer Bella Bono has been volunteering for the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe since she was 10, but this year she had a big idea — plan, fund and install a solar array for the animal shelter.

Going into her senior year, Bono started planning the solar installation in April, working with her father, Joe Bono, to get donated materials and services, fundraise for what wasn’t donated, and complete a 5.5-kilowatt solar installation at the Animal Shelter building.

Wrapping up the plans this month, Bono hopes to have the panels up and running this fall. 

“My biggest interests are animals and the environment, so I like to base my activities around both of those passions,” said Bono, who is also part of the Envirolution Club at Truckee High School. 

The 22 solar panels and other equipment should last about 25 years, saving the Humane Society and town of Truckee an estimated $42,000 over that lifespan, Bono said, using the Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s net metering program.

“Bella approached us with a very impressive, very thorough proposal to do everything it takes without our staff or volunteers or financial resources,” said Stephanie Nistler, executive director of HSTT. “She is a really impressive young woman to take this on all by herself. Her motivation, her compassion for animals ­ she’s a really awesome kid.”

Much of the solar equipment was donated by Solar Universe and Western Nevada Supply, and planning and installation is being donated by Mike Nethersole of MD Construction ­— all of which adds up to about a $20,000 value at wholesale, Bono said.

“From the town’s perspective, we love how Bella engaged with community members to carry this project forward,” said Dan Olsen, support services manager for the town. “From lining up the contractors, to discussions with the town, to raising the funds. Bella has really put a lot of energy and passion into this project which ultimately saves money for the tax payers in our community.”

Bono raised an additional $4,000 to complete the project, hosting baby-sitting date nights at The Lodge at Tahoe Donner, a haircut-a-thon at Tangerine Aveda in Reno, selling a lot of cookies, and getting substantial donations from Jeff and Jules Schwerdtfeger and Amy Quigley.

“The solar panels will not only save the Humane Society and the Town of Truckee money, but fall in line with our values,” Nistler said. “We are an organization that really strives to be environmentally friendly, whether it’s cleaning up dog waste or building our shelter to LEED Silver certification standards. Converting to solar power is in line with what we believe in.”

This article was submitted on behalf of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe and the town of Truckee, who co-run the Animal Shelter at 10961 Stevens Lane in Truckee. Visit  to learn more.

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