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Saving Energy & Helping Troubled NV Kids


Wednesday, December 12, 2012   

LAS VEGAS – In a decision that could affect troubled children and utility customers, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada is expected to rule this month on energy-efficiency grants for nonprofit groups.

Typically, most folks would not connect youths who have been victims of abuse and utility bills, says Boys' Town Nevada executive director Howard Olshansky, but his organization now saves $1,800 a year on energy bills because of lighting improvements at its Nevada facility.

"Nonprofits are always looking for ways to best utilize their dollars. If we can be more efficient, save money, it directly impacts the work that we do with people in our communities."

Advocates say more than $180 million in potential savings are at stake in Nevada. The PUC is expected to issue a decision before Christmas about how much NV Energy, the state's largest utility, should provide in grants to nonprofits for energy-efficiency programs.

NV Energy proposes putting $50 million into all its efficiency programs next year, but Howard Geller, executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, hopes the PUC opts for the full $75 million funding option. He says that would give the most help to Nevada nonprofits and other utility customers.

"If the commission approves what we're recommending, there would be - just according to the utility's own analysis - $187 million in net benefits for the customers."

The Bureau of Consumer Protection has recommended cutting the funding because of the tough economy, but Geller calls that shortsighted - especially for NV Energy.

"The utility's doing it because it costs a lot less to save electricity than it does to supply electricity from a new power plant."

Last year, NV Energy provided $7,500 in grants to help Boys' Town retrofit its lighting system. The nonprofit served 600 families and 1,500 young people in and around Las Vegas in 2011.

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