Saturday, November 17, 2007

TRPA goes green

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Nov. story

TRPA – a green trendsetter

By Kathryn Reed

Now that TRPA owns the Stateline building where it’s headquartered, a few changes are being made. It’s practically going to be an environmental demonstration site.
Sierra Pacific Power has awarded the bi-state regulatory agency $150,000 to spend on solar. The problem is a 30,000 watt setup costs $350,000. The agency hopes to come up with the remaining $200,000 in the first half of 2008.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staff has discovered leasing the equipment is not an option because the Nevada Public Utility Commission says no way. So, getting a loan or grants to finance the purchase is probably what it will take.
Fortunately, the grant doesn’t have an expiration date so TRPA has time to work out the money issue.
The grant does stipulate Sierra Pacific would be the beneficiary of any excess power generated by the solar panels.
Even though there is a significant cost outlay, TRPA today spends about $35,000 a year on energy bills. Those would fade away with solar. In theory, the savings could pay for a loan it might need to purchase the solar equipment.
Besides solar, the agency is investing in hybrid vehicles. They have three Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape.
“We have money right now from Nevada to purchase eight more hybrids. We can’t spend the money until we get a match from California. We are working on the California portion,” said Dennis Oliver, TRPA spokesman.
In April, the agency will have use of the Honda FCX for six months. The New York Times describes the $1 million hydrogen fueled vehicle as “a cross between a compact – say, a Volkswagen Golf – and a cinder block.”
TRPA is also upgrading its best management practices to meet its own requirements – something the previous owners had not done.

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