Burning Man, an annual August arts festival in the Nevada desert, is known for fire, nudity and the cult-like devotion of its participants.
This year, engineers and other volunteers from the Burning Man community are taking in the desert sun four months early to help build a solar-power system for a Nevada elementary school.
Black Rock Solar, a Burning Man-inspired nonprofit that helps provide low-income communities with solar electricity systems, on Tuesday announced plans to build a new solar-energy system for the Natchez Elementary School on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s reservation in Nevada.
With engineers from the Burning Man community volunteering the labor as well financial support from MMA Renewable Ventures and Nevada’s Sierra Pacific Power Co., the elementary school will be fitted with a 240-panel, 60-kilowatt solar power system that will save the school an estimated $14,000 on its energy bill each year. The school and its district will use the savings for educational expenses, and will also contribute half "to support conservation efforts throughout the district."
Tom Price, the executive director of Black Rock Solar, founded the organization while serving as environmental director of Burning Man. His idea to harness the plentiful sun that graces Black Rock Desert, as well as the eclectic talent pool from the festival, has already resulted in low-cost solar panels installed at the Pershing County Hospital and Gerlach School, both in tiny Nevada towns.
What’s next for Black Rock Solar? The group wants to build a 30-kilowatt solar array at the student union building at the University of Nevada at Reno, a 60-kilowatt project at Verdi Elementary School and a solar installation with at least 7 kilowatts of capacity at Rothbury, a music festival in Rothbury, Mich.