Saving Energy In Somersett

The following submitted by Geoffrey Brooks – Somersett Association Member:

The Sun can Shine on Dove Mountain Ct in Reno – Cheap at the Price!

NV Energy are offering free energy inspections of your house. I had my house inspected – and – perhaps not to my surprise, it was well built and had “extra” insulation in the attic. (About 16″)

In the basement the stub walls were protected with vapor barrier and insulation. Even the heating vents were insulated.

Areas of concern were the windows, especially our west facing upper windows, where the seals have failed – letting in air – and when we have rain, water as well…a more frequent occurrence this year, possibly due to La Niña (cool central Pacific water) not being so cool! Consequently the rainy/snowy weather typical for the NW States (WA and OR) in the winter, came South to Reno and the Sierra.  Le Nino (hot central Pacific water) again in August?

They also will install a free programmable thermostat, to maximize the efficiency of the HVAC systems.

Our house has a 41KWH Solar array, which since NV Energy have been crediting us 8 c/KWH, means that our total gas and electric bill was zero for 9 months in 2016. We still have to pay a $20/month access/ hook-up/maintenance to the electric grid.

Most folks don’t think that this is a good financial investment, especially as government tax credits means that many are unfairly subsidizing the few (NV energy and the NVPUC believe this – shame on them, as this absolute nonsense!)… so lets see how the economics really work.

The cost of the array was $41,000.   (A penny a watt)

Over three years we have generated 42KWH/day winter/summer- rain/shine – clouds/cloudless!

That is $1,765 worth of electricity at 11.5 cents per KWH (the published rate). NV Energy would pay me if I “used none” $1,270. This is a return on my investment of 4.3% – pretty good – assuming market value for my power.  (At my net purchase price this is a 3.1% return)

However, I had a 30% subsidy from the US taxpayer ($12,300), so my array only cost $29,000. Based on generating $1,765 electrical value, my return is 6.1% – even better. Granted it will take me 16.5 years to “re-capture” my investment. Note, electricity in CA sells for 20.0c/KWH in SF.

NV Energy should be facilitating (through leasing) the installation of roof top solar arrays throughout Reno/Sparks/Washoe County.

There are nearly 200K housing units according to the US Census bureau. If 10% of these had 30KWH solar arrays installed on their roofs, that would be 20K units x 30KWH/day = 600MWH.

North Valmy a coal fired plant (which loses money each time it runs) can only generate 522KWH.

The new Tonapah Crescent Dunes Solar thermal – 110MWH cost $1 Billion to build – it does also have a 1+GWH storage capability as well, so unlike PV panels can run 24/7.

20,000 installations would cost $600,000,000, provide many well paying jobs in NNV and generate electricity into the existing grid. No transmission losses (as can be expected from the Tonopah Crescent Dunes operation). With the largest battery factory (powered by solar) on this planet under construction in TRIC…NV Energy should be able to strike a deal for battery energy storage !!

As a point of comparison, building a Natural Gas Plant with Zero Carbon emissions (CCS) would cost $2.095/watt – so a 600MWH  facility costs $1.2 Billion. If one uses clean coal the cost would be $5.227/watt – so a 600MWH facility costs $3.16 Billion.  

NV Energy by investing in building on Washoe Rooftops should be able to get back $200,000,000 from the Federal government – if they start NOW.                                                                                           

The really good news the electricity from roof-top solar is “free”. If one burns natural gas you still have to pay 2.5cents/KWH.

References: US EIA March 2016, Crescent Dunes Power Station, Valmy N Power Plant                                                                                                                                              

One thought on “Saving Energy In Somersett

  1. Kudos to those who can afford $41K for solar arrays and wait 16.5 years to recapture their investment. However, I suspect most of us in Somersett cannot afford this, or be around long enough (here or alive) to see a financial benefit. Also, like many, I am fundamentally opposed to government subsidizes or utility credits as this just means the cost of such will be passed on to the average Joe (the power companies will make their profits regardless). Bottom line – Government subsidizes or credits generally benefit the few at the expense of the many. The Solar Power industry being a good example (e.g., witness Solyndra and Tesla/SolarCity).

    However, Mr. Brook’s suggestion that Somersett residents take advantage of free NV Energy inspections is a good one. We would all like to save on our energy bill.

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