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April 24, 2015

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Nevada homes, businesses invest in solar power


Sam Morris

Homeowner Tony Ford points out LED light fixtures to Rep. Dina Titus during a tour of solar homes on Oct. 3. Ford’s home was one of 14 houses opened to the public as part of the American Solar Energy Society’s 14th annual tour.

On the day of the National Solar Home Tour, Tony Ford’s home in the southwest valley was generating 6,000 watts of power from the sun.

Ford has outfitted his home with two sets of solar panels on his home, but he didn’t stop there. His appliances are efficient Energy Star models, his home is wrapped in an insulating stucco, his pool has a water-warming solar cover and the lights have been switched over to compact fluorescent lights.

But don’t call him a green freak. He just wanted a lower power bill.

Since Ford installed his solar panels, his electric bills have been as low as $8, although in the summer he does use more energy than he produces, costing him about $100.

“It’s expensive to start with but at the end of the day, you don’t have to rely on the rate hikes coming from NV Energy,” he said of his $30,000 investment in solar panels. “Every little bit helps.”

Ford’s home was one of 14 houses opened to the public Oct. 3 as part of the American Solar Energy Society’s 14th annual tour. Four commercial installations were also on the tour, said Deidre Bradford, the tour’s supervisor via e-mail. About 200 people attended the tour, about the same as last year, she said.

Rep. Dina Titus toured a couple of the homes on the tour, beginning at the home of Debra Carter before touring Ford’s home.

“I think people are really interested in what they can do for their own homes,” Titus said.

The Recovery Act has set aside $36.7 billion for energy projects, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, something Titus said doesn’t get much attention.

“It’s been ignored,” she said.

The House passed another energy bill June 26 that would increase the amount of renewable energy power companies have to buy, as well as put a cap on emissions. The bill is being debated in the Senate.

Titus said there are several items in the bill that will benefit Nevada, including the cap-and-trade element, which would allow power companies that use less carbon emitting power than they are allowed to sell their credits to higher carbon-emitting utilities.

The cap-and-trade portion of the bill is probably the most controversial aspect of the bill, but Titus said that despite the requirement for power producers to pay a penalty for their carbon emissions, she voted for the bill because it “doesn’t hurt small businesses or raise costs.”

The bill also includes money for research and development and assistance for buying lower-energy-use appliances.

“A lot of the pieces are out there,” Titus said. “We just got to get that energy bill out of the Senate.”

After touring Ford’s home, with a final stop at his motorhome with a solar panel on its roof, Titus laughed and said, “I think you’re a closet greenie.”

“I’ve been called worse,” he replied with a laugh.

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