Truckee residents turn to solar for savings |

Truckee residents turn to solar for savings

As utility costs increase and renewable energy gains popularity, the number of Truckee households and businesses harnessing energy from the High Sierra sun has boomed.

And new solar energy users are reaping more than just electricity cost savings ” many are getting money back from the Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s new solar rebate program.

Since the rebate program went into effect on Jan. 1, the local demand for solar energy has nearly doubled, said sales representative Roger Strong of Solar Wind Works in Truckee.

“We have inquiries every day from people who have heard about the rebate program and want to utilize the power option,” Strong said. “This certainly is a growing trend.”

The solar rebate program is available for residential, commercial, and nonprofit buildings. Customers can receive up to $25,000 to assist with installation costs, said Kathy Neus, the district’s technical program administrator.

The rebate initiative is part of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Million Solar Roofs Program aimed at creating 3,000 megawatts of new, solar-produced electricity in California by 2017.

“The fact that the state ” and utility companies ” are promoting this program will really jumpstart solar power,” Strong said. “It’s generated a sense of urgency because people don’t want to miss out on the rebate.”

One local agency looking to join the solar trend is the Truckee Sanitary District. Representatives from the organization said they are planning to add solar photovoltaic panels at the district office.

“The idea is very attractive to us,” said Board Director Jerry Gilmore. “It would lighten our environmental impact, and our expenses.”

District Engineer Blake Tresan said project coordinators have filed a preliminary application for a rebate through the utility district, and are continuing to explore installation costs.

“This goes beyond economics,” Tresan said. “It’s out of a desire to find a clean energy source.”

Sierra Pacific Power Company in Reno is also among the agencies going solar. Photovoltaic modules were recently installed on the roof of the company’s Transportation Services facility, which will supply up to half of the building’s energy needs, said Greg Kern, director of energy efficiency for the utility.

“There is a lot happening right now in the solar industry,” Strong said. “As the cost of utility power continues to rise, renewable sources are going to become more attractive.”

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