17 August 2006

Solar NV

(They like to say it as if it's spelled "Solar Envy"...pretty cute.) Anyway, our photovoltaics class had a field trip to the monthly meeting of the southern Nevada chapter of the American Energy Society, referred to my members as Solar NV. Our class took up about half the seats. We impressed quite a few members, and the speaker was a representative of Sierra Pacific, which is the parent company of Nevada Power. He gave info on the state rebate program for solar and laws and regulation, alot of figures and graphs to go with it. The only thing that irritates me is the rebate program only allows for 1,900 kW per year to be installed, and the demand as it stands now is about 4 times that. Years on a waiting list...unreal. Also, they've lowered the rebate from $5 a watt to $3 a watt, and it'll go down another dollar in the next two years, for residences and small businesses only. For public buildings and schools, it's gone up from $4 a watt to $5 a watt. Thirdly, charter and private schools, and large businesses aren't eligible for the rebate program. However, the information presented there pointed me in the right direction to make our house vastly more energy efficient, so we can be on our way to going solar in under five years (providing we have the funds). So I'm excited about that.

One thing I wasn't excited about was the "surprise" visit from Nevada Senator Dina Titus. She's running for governer on the Democrat ticket and is officially endorsed by the union. Aside from not voting as the union tells me to (I can make up my own mind) I found her demeanor inappropriate and unprofessional. She made snide comments about "big power" blocking her proposals to make this state more agreeable to renewable energy, and how we need to go green, things like that. It's fine that she says those things of course, but I felt like I was being preached to, and that she was covertly attacking the representative of Sierra Pacific. But then, it's what politicians do, I guess.

I did find out though, that 2 laws were passed in Nevada, one I agree with and one I most certainly don't. These are covered under the Solar Access laws. (Authority 1 is under NRS § 111.370 et seq.; Authority 2 is under NRS § 111.239):
1. A homeowners' association cannot deny your right to erecting a solar array on your property.
2. If you have an existing array and your neighbour wants to plant a tree that will block the sun or build an addition to his house that would interfere with irradiance to your array, he legally can't do that. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life. How is my freedom to solar power more important that his freedom to expand on property he has bought?

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