Nevada utilities offer cash rebates for new micro-hydro

Nevada utilities Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power Co. are offering cash rebates to agricultural customers who develop new micro-hydropower systems.

Customers can apply for rebates through the new program between Sept. 4 and Oct. 8. Only agricultural customers who plan to install hydroelectric power are eligible for the HydroGenerations program.

The utilities, both subsidiaries of Sierra Pacific Resources, previously offered cash incentives for solar energy systems. The Nevada Legislature subsequently expanded the rebate program to include hydropower and wind.

The HydroGenerations program offers $2.50 per watt of capacity to farmers and ranchers proposing new small hydro projects. As the hydro program is limited to a total of 100 kW the first year, as much as $250,000 in rebates could be paid. The Legislature authorized the hydro program for three years.

John Hargrove, the utilities’ program manager for energy efficiency and conservation, said the HydroGenerations pilot program is modeled after the solar program. He noted some agricultural customers could generate electricity from creeks or rivers running through their properties, or from irrigation canals or ditches.

�There is not a lot of small hydro generation going on in Nevada,� Hargrove said. �This program is going to generate some interest and some projects that would not happen otherwise.�

Eligible hydro installations must be connected to the grid and metered so that electricity can be supplied to the grid if the customer is generating more than it uses.

The utilities will provide technical and program assistance to customers. Once an application is filed, utility personnel will visit the proposed site to determine if it appears suitable. If the utility finds it suitable, it will make a recommendation to the Nevada Task Force for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, a state body that approves projects for all three programs �- hydro, solar, and wind.

The task force will receive the utilities’ recommendations by the end of October. If the task force approves a project, then the customer would be required to prepare an engineering study for submittal to the utility. If the project earns a letter of approval, the customer would have 12 months to construct it.

Criteria do not stipulate hydro licensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. However, the customer must comply with all local laws.

Information on the HydroGenerations program, including application forms, is to be on the Internet site www.solargenerations.com by the Sept. 4 launch date. For information, contact RenewableGenerations, (1) 866-786-3823; E-mail: info@solargenerations.com.

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