Heidi Bunch
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the Luning Solar Energy Center last week.

Celebrating the completion of the Luning Solar Energy Center, Liberty Utilities invited members of our communities, state representatives and interested groups to join them for the official ribbon cutting at the center.

Travis Johnson, Vice President for Operations of Liberty Utilities, explained to those in attendance that the “Luning project” is a 50 megawatt project. In addition to the project, a 120 kV power line will be constructed to the Table Mountain Substation approximately 1.6 miles away where the energy will be tired into NV Energy’s power grid.

Johnson explained to those in attendance, “25 percent of the energy generated will meet our customers’ energy needs.” Those customers are on the California side of Lake Tahoe.

Liberty Utilities purchases all of their power from NV Energy through a purchased power agreement except diesel generated power. In a negotiation with NV Energy, Liberty Utilities has asked NV Energy to exclude coal-fired power whenever possible.

Angela Dykema, Director of Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy said, “The Governor’s Office of Energy is proud to have played an essential role in the developing of this project as a result of successful state policy for our renewable tax abatement program.”

She went on to explain that the renewable tax abatement program was developed in 2010 and in the past seven years has brought in over $6.8 billion in economic benefits to the state. This consists of capital investments from projects such as the Luning Solar Energy Center, construction and operational payroll from the jobs created and in taxes paid. Over 4,000 jobs had been created from the 30 renewable energy projects in the past seven years.

Greg Sorensen, President of Liberty Utilities – California said, “This project continues Liberty’s commitment to renewable energy sources. When completed later this year, the solar project will meet 25 percent of our customers’ energy needs.”

Currently two Mineral County residents are employed on the Luning project to help keep the solar panels functioning.