Burning Man Lights Up Pershing County Hospital With Solar Energy

Volunteers affiliated with Burning Man are helping the Pershing General Hospital in Lovelock reduce its carbon footprint – and save money on its electric bill – with photovoltaic solar panels that will soon be generating 60,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

The project is getting a major boost from Sierra Pacific Power Company’s SolarGenerations program, which will provide a $150,000 rebate to help bring the Burning Man organization to provide the project to the hospital for free.  The project is expected to be completed by Nov. 21, 2007.

Over the next 20 years, the donated solar array will generate an estimated $130,000 of free, carbon neutral energy for the hospital, allowing them to use those funds for other purposes.

The solar panels, capable of producing 30 kilowatts (30,000 watts), are being installed by Black Rock Solar, a nonprofit project of Black Rock City, LLC, which produces the annual Burning Man event.  This is the first of what is expected to be many Black Rock Solar projects which, through the Sierra Pacific Power SolarGenerations program, will bring low or no cost renewable energy to schools and other public buildings in Nevada.  Black Rock Solar is also currently installing a 90-kilowatt solar system for the schools in Gerlach, which is expected to be completed in December.

Project Celebrated on November 20
Hospital staff, representatives of Pershing County, as well as Black Rock Solar and Sierra Pacific Power will celebrate the completion of the project in Lovelock with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the hospital today at noon.

“This is an opportunity for Burning Man to give back to the communities that have supported the event, and to increase awareness of alternative energy,” said Matt Mynttinen, project manager for Black Rock Solar. “Doing this also promotes the core principles of Burning Man, which includes acts of unconditional gift giving.”

The solar panels could supply up to half of the hospital’s energy needs, according to Matt Rees, chief executive officer of Pershing General Hospital. “We’re really excited about the project,” Reese said. “It will save the hospital thousands of dollars annually on energy costs, which represents dollars that can be invested in new medical equipment that could save lives. We’re also pleased because this is a green project so we are helping protect the environment.”

“The Black Rock Solar group is taking a very unique and innovative approach toward bringing solar energy to many of the communities in which they are involved.  We are very excited to be a part of this great effort,” said John Hargrove, manager of the SolarGenerations program. [para_end]

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase first attended Burning Man 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004-2009, then transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009 to become Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He's the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Voices of Burning Man blog, and content manager for Burning Man’s websites. He also manages the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social networking efforts.

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