Environment | Opinion

Column: Moapa Band makes good deal for solar energy panels





The Moapa Band of Paiute Indians in Nevada used a High Energy Cost Grant from the Agriculture Department to install solar arrays at a tribal business:
The Moapa Band of Paiute Indians owns and operates a sprawling center, which features an enormous smoke shop, fireworks emporium and liquor store, with a cafe, convenience store and gas station. At the center, liquor and tobacco sales aren’t taxed the way they are in your local supermarket.

These days, that’s where the “tax free” theme ends.

Out behind the travel center, enormous solar panels soak up the April rays. The panels provide electricity to the tribe’s roadside business and figure to annually save it many thousands in diesel fuel costs.

But those solar panels weren’t conjured by Paiute elders. They came with a $2.38 million price tag courtesy of a U.S. Department of Agriculture High Energy Cost Grant program. The grants are awarded to energy efficiency programs in areas where energy costs are 275 percent above the national average, according to the USDA.

The tribe figures to save a considerable bundle: nearly $700,000 in annual fuel expenses, according to the federal administration. The hybrid system is considered off-grid and self-contained, meaning it isn’t hooked up to a larger system.

If that estimate is accurate, the clean system will technically pay for itself in less than a decade. Not that the tribe is expected to repay the grant.

Get the Story:
John L. Smith: Solar panels good deal for Moapa tribe (The Las Vegas Review-Journal 4/10)

Also Today:
Tribe and USDA Official Celebrate Solar Power at Moapa Travel Plaza (Nevada Business Magazine 4/9)

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