Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Nevada’s State Park System Strengthens Attractions with Solar

December 21, 2015

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State Energy Program funds from the U.S. Department of Energy supported the installation of batteries to store energy from this solar system at Nevada's Beaver Dam State Park near the Utah border.

State Energy Program funds from the U.S. Department of Energy supported the installation of batteries to store energy from this solar system at Nevada's Beaver Dam State Park near the Utah border.

Fossils of the Ichthyosaur, a massive prehistoric marine reptile, are the prime attraction at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park which installed a 6-kilowatt solar lighting system at its Fossil House.

Fossils of the Ichthyosaur, a massive prehistoric marine reptile, are the prime attraction at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park which installed a 6-kilowatt solar lighting system at its Fossil House.

The state park system across the U.S. is critical to historic preservation, natural history, wildlife conservation, and education. The Energy Department plays a significant role in supporting this national treasure by enabling investments in clean energy technologies.

Last year, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy used funds from the Energy Department’s State Energy Program to expand the use of solar power at three off-grid state parks: Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, Elgin School House State Historic Site, and Beaver Dam State Park.

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, located about 150 miles east of Reno, installed a 6-kilowatt (kW) solar lighting system in its Fossil House to power the facility for the first time.  Built in 1966, the Fossil House only operated during the day before the upgrade--now it's open for extended hours. The new lighting improvement illuminates the park's main attraction, a collection of fossils belonging to an enormous prehistoric marine reptile called an ichthyosaur.

The Elgin School House State Historic Site, near the Utah border, installed batteries to store energy from its 4-kW solar system. The batteries allow the park to operate nighttime security cameras and lighting for its attraction, a one-room schoolhouse built in 1922.

Beaver Dam State Park, also near the Utah border, underwent a retrofit similar to Elgin School House's.  Batteries were installed to store energy from its 8-kW solar system.  The retrofit powers the range station and allows the station to access the state park radio system.  The 2,400-acre park features canyons, waterfalls, and great forests of pinyon pine, juniper, and ponderosa pine.  It also features remnants of a 19th century pioneer settlement.

These investments will help Nevada gain benefits beyond clean energy and energy reliability. According to the Nevada Division of State Parks, the state park system generates about $160 million in revenue to the state economy annually.

More importantly, the clean energy upgrades enhance the states’ educational outreach goals. Educators have noticed these positive impacts, especially at the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park.

Scott Mensing, Gibson Professor of Geography at The University Nevada-Reno, visited the park recently and appreciated the new lighting at the Fossil House. “I was able to take excellent photographs throughout the Fossil House without flash and the images turned out better than my photographs in the past,” Mensing said. “I have been to this site with classes before and the fossils were much easier to see than they were in the past.”

With assistance from the Energy Department, Nevada is ensuring a reliable, clean energy future for some of its finest public attractions.

The Energy Department’s State Energy Program provides funding and technical assistance to energy offices in states and U.S. territories to advance local clean energy priorities while contributing to national energy goals.