eReporter Theresa Phillips
LMUD Energy Services Manager
What is renewable energy and how does affect our lives? That was the question posed to the group of young nature enthusiasts who made up the first session of Lassen Land and Trails Trust Nature Camp.
As the Energy Services Manager for Lassen Municipal Utility District it’s my job to help our customers, even the youngest ones, understand and appreciate the benefits of energy conservation and renewable energy. Thanks to Lassen Land and Trails Trust and their Nature Camp program, LMUD had the opportunity to demonstrate firsthand how the power of the sun can work in our everyday lives.
Wednesday, July 25th I drove to Roxie Peconom campground armed with 15 cans of Pringles and everything needed for a hotdog picnic lunch – but without a campfire or a barbeque how was I going to feed 13 hungry kids? The kids gathered around as I started to explain how we could cook the hotdogs using an empty Pringles can, an oven bag and a wooden skewer.
We began by cutting the can length-wise and then making two slits at the top and bottom, then we folded the can back creating “wings.”
The next step was to poke a hole in the top and bottom of the can, skewer the hotdog, wrap the whole thing in an oven bag and put it in the sun to cook.
The kids ran off to explore the creek with the Nature Camp teachers and I sat and waited for the hotdogs to cook - and cook they did! By the time the kids came back from the creek (about 35 minutes) they were ready to eat the steaming hotdogs – proving that the sun could indeed cook our food just as well as any campfire, barbeque or traditional oven.
We then asked the question, “If the sun can cook our food, what else could we do with solar energy?” That question was answered on a grand scale when the kids and I met Thursday morning at the BLM Hidden Valley Fire Station.
The fire station is powered by a 30KW solar array – the array is capable of producing nearly 45,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year – enough to power the station or 5 typical Susanville homes.
The system is “grid tied” which means that when the station is vacant (as it was on Thursday) the power that is being produced by the array and not being used by the fire station, is fed back into LMUD’s power grid – offsetting the amount of purchased power needed to supply the grid.
Renewable energy is all around us, the sun, wind, water and earth all have the capability to power our everyday lives. It’s comforting to know that Lassen Land and Trails Trust is helping to ensure that the energy consumers of the future will look toward renewable resources to fill their energy needs.