Monday, Oct. 26, 2009 | 12:43 p.m.
CARSON CITY – The state has cleared another hurdle to permit a Sparks company to go forward with a $17.3 million project to install solar panels at three National Guard locations at no cost to the state.
Construction by Sierra Solar LLC is to start next month at the Floyd Edsall Training Center and the Las Vegas Readiness Center, both in Las Vegas and the guard complex in Carson City with a completion date of March 31, 2010.
James Groth, incoming director of the state Office of Energy, told the Legislative Interim Finance Committee Monday the installation and maintenance of the solar units will be paid in full by Sierra Solar.
He estimates the savings will be $2.8 million over the 20-year lease. The contract has the state paying 15 cents per kilowatt hour for the 20 years, despite the expected rising cost of electricity.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, expressed some skepticism. “I’ve seen a lot of contracts over the years that were going to save a lot of money,” he said. But he said he was hopeful these projects deliver.
Raggio also questioned whether it was wise to sign a 20-year contract with Sierra Solar when there will be many innovations being developed and the state would be tied to the solar panels.
Groth said Sierra Solar, under the contract, must maintain the system for the 20 years. But the state has an option to buy the company out.
He said Sierra Solar will be receiving federal tax breaks and other incentives to finance and build the project.