The local government of Las Vegas, Nevada has found a way to put a dent in its $15 million annual energy bill: a 25-acre solar panel array.
The solar PV project is one of the largest developments a municipal government has undertaken; the $19.7 million needed to fund the project comes from the Sanitary Sewer Enterprise Fund. The array is located near the Water Pollution Control Facility and will produce about 20 percent of the energy needed for their operations.
The solar system will produce the most energy during the sun’s peak hours–between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.–which works perfectly since it coincides with peak demand hours, when electricity is the costliest. The panels will generate 3 megawatts of power when performing optimally.
That’s about 6 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, the equivalent of the power needed to support 3o0 homes.
The solar array is just one of several ways the Las Vegas government is trying to save on energy costs. According to Tom Perrigo, the director of Las Vegas’ administration services as well as the city’s chief sustainability officer, reports that area governments are adopting LEED energy efficiency certification standards for new building construction.
Las Vegas has also implemented conservation methods to lower the cost of street lights and traffic lights, building, ball parks and recreation centers.
Perrigo said that the example shown by the Las Vegas governments and local businesses to conserve energy and implement renewable technology has lead to “an energy-efficient climate” in Nevada.
“Quite the contrary to the common perception that we’re very energy intensive and very wasteful, we produce more economic output per unit of energy input than just about anyone else in the country,” he said recently in an interview.
The Las Vegas’ city government’s electricity bill runs about $15 million on average: that amount is split three-ways between treating wastewater, providing street lighting, and running government buildings and facilities. Perrigo estimates that its renewable energy and energy efficient endeavors will save the city between $800,000 and $1 million each year.
Renewable energy projects in Las Vegas are financing through rebates, grants and low-interest loans. The city calculates its payback period to be about 15 years.