Sun Being Tapped To Power Parts Of Lake Mead National Recreation Area

With all the sunny days in Nevada, it would be a sin not to tap into that energy. And that's what the National Park Service is doing at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

More than 600 photovoltaic panels have been installed on the tops of three shade structures in an administrative area parking lot at the NRA. These panels generate energy by absorbing sunlight that is transferred to solar energy that can travel through electrical circuits to power electrical devices.

The 10,205 square feet of panels produce a total output of 158.6 kilowatts, which power the Lake Mead maintenance warehouse, the Interagency Communications Center and other nearby offices in Boulder City, according to NRA staff.

"This was a great project for a couple of reasons,” said Bruce Nyhuis, chief of the park’s maintenance and engineering division. “It demonstrates the National Park Service commitment to renewable energy. The new PV system will offset approximately 35 percent of the total energy used in our warehouse complex.

"Secondarily, this project has the added benefit of providing shade for vehicles, which really helps keep the interior of our vehicles cooler in our climate, as well as offering protection from sun damage."

Lake Mead NRA continues to make green goals. PV panels were added to the renovated visitor center and native plant nursery in 2013. Single-stream recycling bins are being added throughout the park, and the park’s "Green Team" is promoting recycling, composting and other environmental goals.

The construction project was funded by the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. The contractor for the project was SunWize, a sustainable energy contractor out of San Jose, California.