Living Green: Energy changes needed to offset climate change – KLAS

May 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

LAS VEGAS - From the microwave in his kitchen to the lamps in his living room to the electric car in his garage, Steve Rypka’s home runs on renewable energy. He says producing clean energy is the only way to rescue the planet from its environmental emergency.

“Anyone who has a clear view of what’s happening to our world should understand that renewable energy is the only investment we should be making right now, and it should be a massive one,” he said.

Steve and his wife Marsala purchased their first Prius in 2000. That fueled their passion to make greener living choices.

“We’ve become so complacent, and we’ve become so used to, ‘Oh, it’s smoggy and hazy and whatever,”” she said. “I remember when this valley had really, really clean air.”

Nine years ago, they put solar panels on their roof. They eventually added a solar-powered water heater. They love snubbing the gas station with their zero-emission, all-electric Leaf. They say they have never regretted going off the grid.

“It’s the best investment ever made. We’ve reduced our carbon footprint by well over eighty percent in our household, and I’m very proud of that,” Steve said.

The Rypkas cashed in on NV Energy’s solar rebate program. During the last 10 years, the utility has given out $180 million in rebates for 1,700 individual solar installations, including homes, businesses, schools and churches. Critics, however, say the applications program is haphazard and inconsistent.

“I think Nevada should be ‘The Solar State’, not ‘The Silver State’, because we have such an incredible resource, and it’s still largely untapped,” Rypka said.

According to NV Energy’s 2013 renewable energy report, the state will easily meet mandated 25 percent renewable energy production by 2025. Most of that production is geothermal. Thirteen percent is dedicated to solar. The company is working to acquire more solar projects in Clark County during the next five years.

Rypka says it’s a small step in the right direction.

“I think, unfortunately, the real change will happen at a point when it’s so painful that we have no choice, and by then it might be too late,” he said.

He shares his eco-expertise via his company, GreenDream Enterprises, and his Las Vegas Review Journal column. Rypka encourages everyone to take charge of their own environmental destiny.

“People can affect change themselves, so I always urge people, ‘Don’t wait for them to fix it. Take action. If you can make your house more efficient, do it,’” he said. “Once you see that electric bill – ten dollars a month in the summertime – it’s irresistible.”

Steve says their system has completely paid for itself, and they’re getting a 20 percent annual return on their investment with what they save on power bills.

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