This opinion column was delivered by Janet Nelson, a resident of Reno.
The world may be on the verge of doing something about climate change. During this time we hear a lot of talk, but not much action. Ahead lies a tipping point that threatens to disrupt Earth’s natural systems that have maintained climate stability for thousands of years. Rising global temperatures have many consequences; One example is the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, the size of Florida and a mile thick, at risk of sliding into the ocean in the next five years. This alone could raise sea levels by more than two feet worldwide.
What actions can we, as Nevadans, take to prevent a climate tipping point from occurring? The sun in Nevada is free and abundant. The state we call home has an average of 252 sunny days per year, with 79% sunshine from dawn to dusk. When I moved here over 12 years ago, I was surprised at how few solar panels were on the roof. This year, my husband and I finally decided to be part of the solution and install solar panels. First we looked for a contractor, and highly recommend getting local clothing that will be there through the entire process and beyond.
Technology in the last 20 years has improved the performance and efficiency of this new generation of solar panels. While our roof slope is not ideal, our 12 panels mounted on our roof generate more than enough power for our needs and will save about $900 per year in energy costs.
Solar panel installation, control panels, permits, and installation are all included in our price of $16,900. Wow, expensive! But the federal tax credit for installing solar panels reduced our costs by 26%, and our total costs were reduced to $12,500. The installation fee can be paid in monthly installments with 0% interest.
On February 3, a cold but sunny winter’s day, NV Energy turned on our solar panel system. That first day was a lot of fun for us, as we tracked the amount of energy generated on the solar panel monitoring app. We ended up generating 23.6kw of clean energy on that winter day, and saving 36.6 pounds of carbon dioxide from being added to our atmosphere. We are sad to see the sunset. On day two, our total savings in carbon dioxide emissions for two days was equivalent to planting one tree! After two weeks, we saved 485 pounds of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of four trees planted.
Our electricity bill for the first full month of use indicates that we generated more power than we used and received credit for later use. We did have to pay a $15 connectivity fee to NV Energy.
The days are getting longer since February, and even more power is generated. Saving money is not our motivation; rather it creates clean energy and reduces our carbon footprint. One of our neighbors had made arrangements to use solar power because of the information we provided them, another asked about the process. I encourage more of our neighbors in Nevada, who have concerns about the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels, to look at solar panels.
Nevadans can lead the way in avoiding a catastrophic climate tipping point, by showing the entire state and politicians in Washington that action is the only answer.
Janet Nelson is a resident of Reno.
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