Energy and Environment

Julia Ritchey

Road crews have stayed busy this winter sanding and clearing Lake Tahoe's streets and highways for skiers and snowboarders making their annual pilgrimage to the Sierras. While road pollutants have posed one of the biggest threats to the lake's clarity — recent efforts to reduce street debris appear to be helping. Last year, clarity improved by 7 feet. 

Sierra Avalanche Center

Unusual snowpack conditions in the Sierra Nevada mountains are contributing to an increase of a type of avalanche quite uncommon for the area. Our contributor Luiza Vieira has the story.

Even with all the snow Northern Nevada and California are receiving, the number of avalanches has not increased. The Sierra Avalanche Center, however, is seeing a type of avalanche that has not happened in this area in years.

CoCreatr, Flickr, CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

  Last week state regulators ruled against suspending rate hikes for rooftop solar customers, which industry advocates say have sparked massive layoffs. But even before this decision, the industry was not faring as well as some had hoped. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports.

Truckee Meadows Community College started its solar technician training program about six years ago and quickly saw enrollments of between 15 to 30 students. 

But that didn't last long, according to Jim New, dean of technical sciences.

Amy Westervelt

The Natural Resources Conservation Service collects a lot of data, including snowpack measurements from more than 80 snow telemetry stations, also called SNOTEL sites, across the Sierras and Northern Nevada.

Now that we’re halfway through this winter, NRCS Hydrologist Jeff Anderson is digging into what those numbers mean, and he visited with News Director Michelle Billman to share some of his early findings.

Black Rock Solar, Flickr, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Nevada's Public Utility Commission has denied a petition that would halt recently approved rate changes for rooftop solar users. This is despite swift and angry backlash by both solar companies and their customers. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection had filed a petition asking to suspend the rate hikes that went into effect January 1st for customers.

Dozens of those upset customers spoke out during a day-long hearing in Carson City Wednesday, calling the commission's decision unfair and short-sighted.

Elliott Brown, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

  [This story will be updated following the PUC meeting in Carson City this morning.]

The Public Utilities Commission is reconsidering a controversial change to rates for rooftop solar customers Wednesday, but companies including SunRun and SolarCity have already announced massive layoffs. And customers who installed solar panels are already seeing increases in their power bill. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey talked with some of those unhappy customers.

Last month the PUC gave NV Energy the OK to raise rates for existing solar customers.

TMWA Buys Water Rights For Donner Lake

Jan 6, 2016
Amy Westervelt

Truckee Meadows Water Authority now has complete ownership of Donner Lake's storage rights. As Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports, the lake is another important drought reserve for the region.

Since the 1940s, TMWA and its predecessor, Sierra Pacific Power, has owned one half of Donner Lake's water rights in California. The other half belonged to the Truckee Carson Irrigation District, made up mostly of Fernley and Fallon-area farmers.

But last month the irrigation district agreed to sell its stake in Donner to TMWA to the tune of $17 million.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Snowpack measurements across the Eastern Sierra and Northern Nevada are coming in higher than normal. For the latest snowpack update, let's check in with Reno Public Radio's Michelle Billman.

As a hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Jeff Anderson oversees about 100 snow telemetry sites, also called SNOTEL stations. He visited one on Mt. Rose Monday where he measured 54 inches of snow, containing almost 16 inches of water content.

Julia Ritchey

 Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno, are trying to make a tiny, ancient grain called Tef more productive in the face of a warming planet.

If you've tried Ethiopian food, chances are you've heard of tef, a small, poppy-seed sized cereal chock-full of nutritional value.

Biochemistry professor John Cushman has spent the last couple of years studying tef at UNR’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources.

Solar Companies Cry Foul Over New NV Metering Rules

Dec 25, 2015
Marufish, Flickr, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission voted to change rates for rooftop solar customers this week — prompting an outcry from solar companies and their advocates, like Sen. Harry Reid, who say the decision is major blow to the industry. 

 

Ask the CEO of one of the country’s largest rooftop solar companies what impact he thinks the commission’s decision will have on the state’s burgeoning solar industry, and you get this:

 

“No, it’s destroyed. Done.”

 

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