April brings green celebrations, contests, rebates

April is always a busy month for anyone with a bit of green in them and this is the week for premier events.

Celebration

The fourth-annual GreenFest and the 17th annual Festival of Communities are being combined from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus. This is a major event that you won’t want to miss, honoring national Earth Day while also celebrating the rich cultural diversity of UNLV and the Las Vegas Valley. Admission and parking are free.

The combined festivals invite community partners, nonprofits, organizations, schools, students and families to explore and be inspired. The event will include green vendors, live entertainment, performances, activities, food and drink, recycling and conservation exhibits, campus tours, fashion shows and art. To learn more, visit www.unlv.edu/festivals and www.greenfestlv.com.

Competition

I’m sure the UNLV’s Solar Decathlon team will be on hand, too. It has been working hard on DesertSol, its entry for this year’s national competition to be held in Southern California this fall. This is a huge undertaking and the team needs your help. Check out its newly updated website at solardecathlon.unlv.edu to learn more about the project and how you can support the team.

DesertSol will have a lasting impact on our community since Team Las Vegas has announced that it will have a permanent residence at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas after the competition in October.

Heads Up on Clean Energy

As if on cue for Earth Day, NV Energy’s SolarGenerations program will accept applications for the next round of solar energy projects beginning Monday through 5 p.m. May 17. Successful applicants will be eligible for rebates to help offset the installation costs for photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight into electricity. At the close of the application period, if any category is oversubscribed, participants will be chosen by a lottery conducted by a third party.

Residential customers, small businesses, schools and public buildings are eligible to participate in the program, which was established by the Nevada State Legislature in 2003 to encourage Nevadans to invest directly in renewable energy. Participants must be NV Energy customers.

Rebates for the next round of projects range from $1.25 to $1.35 for residential customers and small businesses, and from $2.80 to $3.10 for schools and public buildings. You can visit the SolarGenerations Web page at www.solargenerations.com for a detailed description of how the incentives will be allocated.

NV Energy customers interested in applying for SolarGenerations are encouraged to get more information by reviewing the program handbook located on the website. Anyone with questions about applying can call toll-free at 866-786-3823 or contact the program by email at renewable
generations@nvenergy.com.

SolarGenerations is one of several renewable-energy programs offered through NV Energy’s RenewableGenerations initiative. Since the start of the program, customers have installed more than 35 megawatts of solar power in Nevada.

When weighing your options for solar power, be sure to consider the renewable-energy credits that your system will produce. If you accept a rebate from NV Energy, your RECs will be permanently assigned to them. If you forgo the rebate and keep your RECs, you can still claim a 30 percent federal tax credit on the total cost of the system and you will have the opportunity to sell your RECs directly. I suppose it is appropriate for Nevada that it is a bit of a gamble since the market for RECs is still maturing. Sales and prices are not guaranteed now.

If your primary interest is the lowest first cost, going for the rebate might make the most sense. The low cost of photovoltaic panels along with the tax credit make an attractive deal that works for many, even without the rebate. That is the path I would take if I were doing it over again.

Enjoy the spring weather and have a great Earth Day.

Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information and links to additional resources relating to this column, or to reach Rypka, visit www.greendream.biz.

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