The Energy Office received a three-year, $5 million Department of Energy grant in 2010 for EnergyFit Nevada, a program aimed at increasing comfort and energy savings in Nevadans’ homes while reducing energy consumption. Homeowners were provided educational materials at EnergyFit Nevada’s website, through which homeowners could access the program. Low-interest loans were made available to fund recommended upgrades, and if a home demonstrated a minimum 20 percent increase in energy efficiency, the homeowner could receive a minimum $1,000 rebate. The program’s goal was to upgrade 1,250 single family residences in Nevada by March 2014.
Energy Assurance and Emergency Operations Plan
The Energy Office was granted $438,573 including administrative costs to update and implement Energy Assurance into the Emergency Operations Plan which outlines the structure for monitoring and overseeing energy demand and supply in case of a disruption or an emergency. The plan provides the ability to intervene, when directed, to ensure a reliable supply of electricity, natural gas, motor vehicle fuel, propane, and other heating products are available to the citizens of Nevada. The work plan includes developing new energy-use and disruption-tracking systems, incorporating “smart grid” technology, as well as outfitting a room capable of handling the personnel required to respond to any energy contingency that may develop through implementing the plan.
The energy contingency center was configured with visual and connective technologies to enhance the Energy Office’s effectiveness in responding to energy contingencies. The office prepared a process for tracking the duration, response, restoration, and recovery time of energy supply disruption events and notified all Nevada energy-supplying entities of the energy disruption tracking process and requested their participation. The Energy Assurance and Emergency Operations Plan is available at www.energy.nv.gov under Media, then Reports.
The office participates in the Nevada Division of Emergency Management exercises as Emergency Support Function (EFS) 12.
Statewide Renewable Energy Project
The Statewide Renewable Energy Project was created to develop renewable energy systems on multiple sites in order to offset the amount state agencies pay for electrical power. Nevada solicited interest from private-investors to design, build, own, and operate solar photovoltaic projects through long-term power purchase agreements on up to 55 sites for 10 state agencies and the City of Las Vegas.
An independent evaluation committee from state agencies, the Nevada System of Higher Education, and the City of Las Vegas selected the vendor, GA-SNC Solar, LLC after reviewing and ranking eight proposals. State Purchasing issued a Letter of Award to GA-SNC Solar, LLC, and an agreement was approved by the state Board of Examiners March 1, 2011. GA-SNC met with state agencies and analyzed utility data to determine the feasibility of constructing solar facilities on the sites. GA-SNC determined that some sites were not financially viable with their established business model and those sites were subsequently removed from the list. The remaining sites were determined to have the potential to be viable but would need NV Energy’s RenewableGenerations rebates or other low-cost financing mechanisms to be feasible. Given the current process and availability of SolarGenerations rebates, it was determined to be in the best interest of the State and GA-SNC to release the state sites from the agreement on May 9, 2013.
Nevada Rooftop Solar Initiative
The Nevada Rooftop Solar Initiative, one of the Energy Office’s newest programs, is designed to increase and strengthen Nevada’s residential and commercial rooftop-solar photovoltaic market by:
- Standardizing codes, inspections, and ordinances
- Developing an efficient process to implement rooftop solar installations from concept to final completion, and
- Building upon existing programs and efforts to develop revolving loan programs.
The main goal of the program is to streamline the permitting and interconnection process for rooftop-solar systems so that installations can be completed within two months of approval. The project also aims to make solar electricity cost-competitive with other forms of energy – as well as to ultimately see 5 percent of all single family homes and businesses in Nevada using rooftop-solar systems.
The Governor’s Office of Energy (GOE) is coordinating with NV Energy (NVE) to improve the net-metering and interconnection process for rooftop solar. In anticipation of fewer rebates being made available through the utility to incentivize the construction of solar projects in Nevada, the NSOE has been working with NVE to create a streamlined process to improve the workflow of rooftop solar permits. The GOE has been coordinating with the local jurisdictions of Clark County, City of Las Vegas, City of North Las Vegas, City of Henderson, and City of Reno to streamline their solar permitting processes for small rooftop systems. Part of the solution being developed includes a web-portal that will allow for the utility, local permitting jurisdictions, and contractors to manage the permitting process through newly developed software called PowerClerk Interconnect. PowerClerk Interconnect will enable better communication between contractors, inspectors and permitting jurisdictions to track a solar permit from start to finish through one point of contact. The work on this phase of the grant is considered complete as of May 10, 2013. The GOE submitted an application to DOE on March 22 for phase 2 funding.
The Energy Office managed numerous grants funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The primary goal of these projects was to increase energy efficiency in Nevada. Most grantees reported back significant savings in maintenance costs, improved energy tracking, significant energy savings, and enhanced renewable energy opportunities. The following list highlights the ARRA projects that have been successfully completed by the office.
Nevada School Buses
A $496,000 EPA grant was received by the Energy Office in 2006. When the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) also received a grant from the EPA for clean-diesel buses, an agreement was made between NDEP and the Energy Office for the installation of emission control systems onto school buses.
The combined funding covered upgrades on most school buses in Nevada. Remaining funds were used to purchase coolant heaters for 109 vehicles that can warm the buses prior to starting engines, thus reducing engine idle time and engine maintenance. This project was completed December 31, 2011.
Energy Efficient Street Lighting and Traffic Signals
More than $1.5 million in ARRA funding was budgeted to make street lighting and traffic signals more energy efficient. This project allowed regional transportation commissions and various Nevada communities to work together in replacing street lights and traffic signals with more efficient LED lighting. The lighting boosted energy savings and enhanced safety at intersections by increasing visibility.
Allocations were $249,789 for Carson City, $326,979 for Clark County, $230,311 for Henderson, $394,800 for Las Vegas, $358,600 for North Las Vegas, and $10,600 for Washoe County RTC. All projects are complete. The Energy Office received permission from the DOE to transfer surplus funding from the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure to Street Lights for additional lighting projects in Carson City and Clark County. About 2 million kWh in energy savings has been estimated to date. Grant recipients report that the new lights have a 5- to 10-times greater lifespan, which has added additional savings because of reduced maintenance costs.
Alternative Fuels for State Vehicles
More than $150,000 of ARRA funding was budgeted to replace a fuel tank at the Nevada State Motor Pool in Las Vegas with a dual-capacity tank that allows ethanol (i.e., E85) to be stored and dispensed into flexible-fuel vehicles in the state inventory. This allowed additional flexible-fueled vehicles to be ordered as a future strategy aimed at reducing petroleum use and meeting the energy policy act requiring 75 percent of newly purchased vehicles to use alternative fuels.
The system was completed in November 2010, inspected, and is in operation. Funding left over from this project was used for additional street lights and traffic signals for Carson City ($6,000) and Washoe County ($8,840). Remaining funds ($30,580) were used in Carson City for transportation systems, such as additional street lighting.
State Building Energy Upgrades
More than $7 million was budgeted as a part of an ARRA grant to provide energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to existing state-owned buildings. Projects included the following:
- Lighting replacements to more efficient fluorescent lights and LED lights
- New lighting control systems
- Energy saving window treatments
- HVAC system upgrades to more efficient systems
- Photovoltaic installations at four locations
- Related projects designed to save the state significant energy costs.
All projects strived to meet ARRA SEP goals of annual energy savings of at least 10 MBtus saved for each $1,000 spent. Based on information available from the State Public Works Division and the monitoring performed by the state’s consultant, CLEAResult, these savings will be achieved.
One hundred and seventy two (172) state buildings were completed by April 2012, including solar installations at the DMV in Henderson, the Legislative Council Bureau parking garage in Carson City, the Nevada State Library and Archives in Carson City , and the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. On the average, most projects are projected to have paid for themselves within nine years. The estimated energy savings is 73.2 MBtus or 6,430,519 kWh.
The results of this project are detailed in the CLEAResult report.
Energy Improvements at Nevada’s Schools
More than $9 million under ARRA was budgeted to provide $441,176 to each of Nevada’s 17 school districts. The program aimed to make Nevada schools more energy efficient by upgrading lighting and HVAC systems, as well as adding window treatments, lighting control systems, and renewable energy installations. The larger per-capita counties, Washoe and Clark, received an additional $1 million each. Projects strived to meet ARRA’s annual energy savings of at least 10 MBtu for each $1,000 of investment.
Contracts were awarded and projects are finished in all 16 participating counties. (Mineral County rejected its funding.) A free Energy Star Portfolio benchmark tool on energy savings, reporting before and after project installations, is being sponsored by NV Energy for districts that fall within NV Energy’s service area.
Business Development through Renewable Energy
This project was jointly administrated by the Energy Office and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). To help unify the statewide effort to rebuild and diversify Nevada’s economy, the Energy Office awarded the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization (NIREC) a contract to support the statewide growth of renewable energy industries. Bringing together Nevada’s future and existing renewable energy suppliers, NIREC and the GOED partnered to develop an online, printable directory and database of Nevada’s clean and renewable energy suppliers.
NIREC identified almost 500 companies located in Nevada – or seeking to do business in the state – that sell renewable energy products or provide related services. The companies were placed in the Nevada Clean Energy Supplier Directory, and the second edition is available online: http://nirec.org/directory.html. There is also a searchable database on the NIREC website. In addition to the directory, a guide of available training programs and related information, such as grants, events, and projects, are also posted on the NIREC website: www.nirec.org. GOED provided additional funding to continue the directory until July 2013. A new format will give companies the ability to add and edit their own contact information.
NIREC also produced two white papers for the office that examined the feasibility of rare earth elements and lithium production in Nevada. The documents are available at energy.nv.gov.
Renewable Energy Export Engineering Feasibility Study
More than $1.3 million under ARRA was budgeted to perform feasibility studies and ensure a strategically planned development of energy sources in Nevada. The State allocated this money to evaluate the state’s transmission infrastructure and develop viable projects for high-voltage transmission lines to benefit renewable energy development and exporting energy out of Nevada. Slightly more than half (i.e., $1,588,948) of the original $3 million was transferred to the Revolving Loan Program.
The Energy Office signed a contract with the nonprofit Nevada Energy Assistance Corporation (NEAC) for electrical transmission engineering and an extensive feasibility study. A final report of the Transmission Initiative Routing Study was presented to and approved by the NEAC Board of Directors in April 2012. The report details projects that capture renewable energy generation from established zones to major substations that could deliver the energy to California utilities. These transmission routes would create jobs throughout Nevada and, once completed, would provide a key piece of infrastructure facilitating the export of new sources of renewable energy as well as greater energy reliability and diversity for Nevada and California. The report is available online.
Work is continuing on the topics of this report through the Energy Office’s New Energy Industry Task Force.
Energy Efficient Appliance Rebates
The Energy Office received $2,495,000 (including
administrative costs) to be used for a State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate
program. This program allowed Nevada residents to receive rebates when they
purchased energy efficient appliances. The rebates were available to replace
used appliances with Energy Star appliances. Rebate amounts were: refrigerator
($200), freezer ($150), washing machine ($150), and dishwasher ($100).
Purchases had to be from Nevada retailers.
15,287 rebates were issued, which equated to $2,386,200 in rebates made available to Nevadans. Savings estimated to date include 1.3 million kWh saved, more than 40 million gallons of water and 784 tonnes (metric tons) of carbon dioxide kept from the atmosphere. Download a program fact sheet.
Statewide Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants
The Energy Office was awarded a $9,593,500 grant to assist cities and counties in implementing a variety of energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy opportunities. The Energy Office immediately sent letters to all included cities and counties, which subsequently submitted projects for approval. The Energy Office worked with the Department of Energy to gain project approval, lift funding restrictions, and receive approval for advanced funding to the sub-grantees. The projects ended September 2012.
Cities and Counties
More than $6 million was allocated to Nevada cities and counties for energy efficiency and conservation projects, as well as renewable energy systems. The 10 largest counties and 10 largest cities in Nevada by population were awarded funding directly by the DOE, independent from any Energy Office grants.
After receiving confirmation that Lander County did not want to participate in the use of ARRA grant funds, the Energy Office allocated a portion of the funds originally designated for Lander County to Lincoln, Mineral, Storey, and Eureka counties. Through successful gains in the efficient administration of this program, additional amounts that were formerly dedicated to salary and administrative costs were reallocated directly to projects. West Wendover was awarded additional money to construct a second 50-kW solar array on its city hall. Caliente, Fallon, and Winnemucca were awarded additional funds as reimbursements for project expenses the cities incurred out-of-pocket.
Besides the counties listed above, Esmeralda County received funds to construct two solar panel arrays to help offset the county’s electrical expenses: a 10-kW array to operate a water-well at Silver Peak, and another 10-kW array on the Goldfield County courthouse.
Grant funds were also distributed to the cities of Carlin, Ely, Lovelock, Wells, and Yerington. Ely installed a solar-panel array next to its firehouse, offsetting up to 40 percent of its electricity consumption, as well as solar thermal panels on the firehouse roof, which offset up to 60 percent of its propane usage use for interior heating and hot water, both of which are critical for the operation of the firehouse, particularly in light of the cold local climate. The solar power array is projected to save 36,680 kWh each year, and the solar thermal panels are projected to save 1,780 gallons of propane, which is roughly equivalent to 47,700 kWh each year.
All five counties and nine cities have completed their projects, with the exception of Winnemucca and West Wendover, which should be 100 percent complete by mid-July 2012.
Emergency Vehicle Idle Reduction
More than $700,000 was allocated for 125 battery devices that allow emergency personnel to shut off engines and provide up to four hours of power for operation of computers, radios, light bars, and other vehicle equipment. Requests for vehicle monitoring and heating systems to be incorporated into the system reduced the number of devices that were ordered, resulting in a more operator-friendly system that is more apt to be used for longer periods of time. The reporting system will have concrete data for energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions.
Sub-grants were issued to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Henderson Police Department, Las Vegas Metro Police Department, and the Nevada Highway Patrol for $178,200 each. The City of Henderson accepted $50,000 of the $178,200 allotted to them. The remaining $128,200 was granted to the North Las Vegas Police Department. Las Vegas Metro (41 units), Henderson Police Department (12 units), and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (38 units) installed the battery units.
The remaining two agencies installed the majority (28) of the units they have ordered. The vendor of the battery units offered 28 smaller units, which can be used in smaller patrol vehicles. They also offered a unit with remote uploading technology, allowing data to be sent wirelessly to a data-collection point, which increased the amount of time each vehicle can remain on duty. The North Las Vegas Police Department and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office purchased units with this feature. Early data collection shows significant fuel savings and carbon reductions on vehicles using energy efficient units. The Nevada Highway Patrol in Elko decided to discontinue the program because the batteries did not fit their specific needs. The batteries were delivered to the Nevada Division of State Parks for use in their vehicles.
State Buildings: Monitoring Natural Gas and Electricity Use
More than $200,000 was allocated to pay for monitoring the energy consumption in state buildings. LPB Energy Management Services monitored all state-owned buildings, established baselines, reviewed utility bills for errors, and negotiated rebates on behalf of the Energy Office.
LPB initiated the data-capture process and NV Energy and Southwest Gas reported that savings to the state had been realized. In some cases, the incorrect utility rate schedule was assessed and errors were corrected.
Traffic Signal and Street Lighting
This project provided $1,477,457 in funding, plus administrative costs, to install energy-efficient street lighting and traffic and pedestrian signals and signs in Nevada cities and counties.
All projects were approved and funds were sent to Nevada cities and counties. All projects are complete. The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County completed LED streetlight upgrades and pedestrian crosswalk signals within county-controlled intersections in the greater Reno-Sparks area. Ely, Fallon, Douglas County, and Lyon County installed various combinations of LED streetlights, traffic signals, and LED- illuminated street signs at major intersections. The table below shows the light installations by jurisdiction.
The installations completed by the RTC lower the power consumption for each streetlight from 250W to 140W, and for each pedestrian signal, from 26W to 6W. It is estimated this will save the RTC $114,000 a year. The installations also save in maintenance costs, since the average life of these bulbs is three times or more that of traditional bulbs, reducing the need for change-outs.
The new LED streetlights in Ely are estimated to use 90 percent less power than the former incandescent bulbs, which reduced electricity usage to only one-tenth of the previous amount. The new LED streetlights are estimated to use 30 percent less power than the previous metal-halide bulbs. These changes have already had a noticeable impact on the city’s operating expenses.
Douglas County has projected, based on four months of monitoring its new streetlights/street signs, that energy usage is being reduced at the rate of 1,513 kWh per year because of the new installations.
The Industries of the Future Grant
This grant was extended at the last minute by the Department of Energy so the funds could be quickly spent. A sub-grant of $9,500 was given to the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Nevada Industry Excellence program, which “revitalizes Nevada’s manufacturing, construction and mining community by addressing individual needs and providing direct support and referral services.” The grant provided Six Sigma Green Belt training for six Barrick Gold Corp. employees during the week of April 9-13, 2012. Barrick matched the grant with $27,280.
Geothermal Outreach Grant
This grant was extended by DOE to expend the remaining grant funds ($19,000) for student tuition to attend the June 2012 Geothermal Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno.