Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Greening the Nevada Desert

Some of you know my husband Bob as the person who fixes everything at The Flower Tree, and others may know him as the "Beer Guy" who has been doing the beer tasting and events all summer at Red Zinnia, but here is a little fact you may not be aware of. While it may seem that he is either at one and/or both stores quite a bit, he actually has a FULL time job, with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for almost 30 years now. The following article was written to recognize a huge accomplishment that took place over the last year at Stillwater Refuge here in Fallon. Thank you to Susan Sawyer, from the Fallon office for this great article and recognition of the maintenance team at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge.

He is proud of the men he works with, and I am proud of him........

"Greening the Nevada Desert: Stillwater NWR Shop Goes Solar "Over the past several years, Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge near Fallon, NV has made several steps towards a 'greener' way of doing business in the northern Nevada desert. The refuge has instituted practices and made purchases that help reduce its carbon footprint on the fragile desert flora and fauna, conserve fossil fuels, promote cleaner air and save taxpayer resources.

The largest step in this 'greening' process was completed earlier this year with the second half of a 2-phase solar energy system installed at the refuge maintenance shop. Bob Henderson, Maintenance Supervisor, researched the various options available, and designed a plan for a 15 kilowatt, full grid tie-in photovoltaic system (as opposed to using batteries) that would meet the power needs of the main shop building. However, initial cost estimates from professional engineers put the project out of reach. Not one to be phased easily, Henderson gathered his solar facts, and approached refuge Manager Mike Goddard, who gave his full support to the project and authorized station funds to install the first phase of 7.4kw. This was completed in 2009.

When the CNO Regional office learned of the projects' success at a much lower costthan expected, allocated construction funds were approved for the remainder of the panels, which were installed last Spring. The total cost of the finished 15kw system amounted to about half of the original professional engineering estimate.

A major key to the success of this project was choosing a modular system of proven design that could be added to as funding became available, or if power needs increased. Another cost-saving measure was that Henderson and his staff installed the solar panels, inverters and peripherals themselves, rather than hire an outside contractor. The finished system consists of 72 solar panels that save an average of 1.7lbs of Co2 per kilowatt of power generated. As of this writing, nearly 12,000kw of solar energy has been produced, saving almost 20,000 pounds (10 tons) of Co2 from polluting the atmosphere.

With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year at Stillwater refuge, Henderson says, "it was a no-brainer for our shop to run off solar. Most stations in this region [8], except for those in the extreme northwest, could use solar power in some form; it just makes sense." Currently, the system produces about 100kw of free power daily, enough to provide for the shop's 4-day work week. Excess power produced during the three off-days ties into the main power grid for distribution to Fallon area residents. Not only does the Stillwater NWR shop reduce their carbon impact on the refuge's desert dwellers, they benefit their human neighbors as well.


Sara K. said...

I've always known he is the greatest man in the world :) This is just so amazing. I'm really proud of him for doing his part.

Jessica said...

This is fantastic!


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