Carson City Board of Supervisors juggle fire & ice

Fire and ice, in the guise of energy and snowpack, captured the attention of Carson City’s Board of Supervisors Thursday.

The board approved an energy-savings audit pact with an engineering consultant company and heard a report on water issues, including drought and lack of snow, in another agenda item.

Board members voted without dissent to approve a $76,000 performance contract with Ameresco, Inc., to provide financial grade energy auditing services for city government, embarking the city on long term efforts at energy savings. The pact was seen by Supervisor Brad Bonkowski as a solid move because it could bring power cost savings and Nevada state government would reimburse the cost if the plan proceeds in May, 2016.

“No out-of-pocket cost to the city?’ was the question posed by Mayor Robert Crowell, focusing on the contract before the board. Steve Frost of Ameresco affirmed that.

Bonkowski noted, however, embarking on the audit would require board follow through in coming years to heed recommendations on changes bearing costs to invest toward savings. Frost, Ameresco senior business developer, picked up on Bonkowski’s comment and indicated follow through was necessary to take advantage of a “guaranteed savings stream” that’s anticipated. Some 26 city government buildings and 553,000 square feet of space are involved.

Frost told the Nevada Appeal after his presentation his engineering firm could make money in coming years from working with the city on decisions to garner the savings.

The board also heard a full scale report from Ed James, general manager of the Carson River Water Subconservancy District, on drought, flooding and Carson River watershed issues. He said this coming winter an El Niño pattern could bring precipitation, but four years without sufficient snowpack and runoff from the Sierra Nevada range hasn’t helped. He said 2.7 inches of snow last season compared with an average of 20 inches annually over time.

“It was the lack of snow that really impacted us,” James said. He said projections for wetness but warm temperatures could serve to keep drought alive. “It is very possible we could have a flood on the Carson (River) this year and still be in a drought,” he said. James’ outlook is the hydrologic year runs from Thursday, Oct. 1, to the same date next year.

James also reported generally Carson River watershed is in better shape than the Humboldt, Walker or Truckee River counterparts. He said Eagle Valley groundwater is in relatively good shape as well, and work on new flood maps that benefits citizens in the watershed is proceeding. He said that longer term, decisions about growth may well loom.

“Ultimately, we’re going to have to ask the question of how much growth makes sense,” he said, assessing the water situation throughout the watershed. James’ unit serves several counties along the river, including Carson City.

In other action, the board upheld a Planning Commission decision to allow Bethlehem Church and School to add classroom space and move playground and basketball courts on its property despite an appeal from two nearby residents. Another appeal to the board from the Planning Commission lodged by a medical marijuana dispensary company was withdrawn.

WSCC, Inc., had sought a 140 square foot sign rather than one of 15 square feet for a dispensary locating at 2765 U.S. Highway 50 East. The commission authorized doubling signage to 30 square feet and WSCC initially appealed but then withdrew that challenge in a communication dated last Friday.


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