Letter: Our electricity is greener than you know
April 29, 2017
On Tuesday, April 18, our community pledged to 100 percent clean energy. On Wednesday, April 19, Liberty Utilities celebrated the completion of its 50 MW Luning Solar Energy Center.
Twenty-five percent of Liberty Utilities' electricity — 25 percent of the electricity that's powering your home right now — comes from this clean energy source three hours away.
At night the solar panels are "parked" horizontal to the ground, but at sunrise 350 acres of panels tip toward the rising sun — but not so far as to shade each other — and follow the sun's pathway across the sky.
The Luning Solar Energy Center is on Bureau of Land Management land near Hawthorne, Nevada. You can find it on Google Earth in tiny Luning at the junction of U.S. 95 and Nevada Route 361. The adjacent Table Mountain Substation provides an immediate and cheap connection to the grid. The facility is about a mile long (6,000 feet) by about half a mile wide (2,600 feet) but it almost disappears into the desert.
So how much will this clean energy cost us?
For the next five years, customers will pay down the cost of construction, so the charge will be about 6 cents per kwh. Currently, electricity generated by natural gas costs about 4-5 cents per kwh. But with solar's low operational expenses, costs per kwh are expected to drop below those for natural gas for the remainder of the lifetime of the panels, another 25 years.
Many U.S. jobs were created during the building phase. However, the parts were mostly manufactured in foreign countries — the panels in China and the power converters in Germany — countries already positioned to benefit from this energy transformation.
With our community commitment to clean energy, we help foster the economic climate here in the U.S.A. for robust investment in the transforming energy sector.
Bonnie L. Turnbull
South Lake Tahoe, California
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