Burning Man’s Gift: Solar Cities.

The Burning Man festival is a bit of a hassle for folks in rural Nevada, who once a year get overrun by thousands of freaks, punks, hippies and ravers, clogging up the streets and doing who knows what at all hours of the night out in what’s usually the pristine, solitary wastes of the Black Rock desert. But now, as CNET News reports, the Burners are giving something back – free electricity.

The idea behind Black Rock Solar is to find worthy recipients for whom to donate fully installed solar arrays that can then provide a source of free power for years to come. Black Rock Solar is partnering with MMA Renewable Ventures and Nevada utility company Sierra Pacific Power to provide the labor, expertise, and equipment necessary to get the solar arrays on line.

Already, Black Rock has installed a 30-kilowatt array at a hospital in Lovelock, Nev. Now a Gerlach school–a side-by-side elementary and middle/high school at which the ribbon-cutting ceremony is taking place–will be getting a 90-kilowatt array that should provide as much as $20,000 a year in free power. The rebates for those two projects total about $600,000.

“A lot of the older people of our community…are real reticent about accepting (the Burning Man community),” said Carol Kaufmann, principal of the school–the Earnest M. Johnson Elementary School and Gerlach Middle and High School, which is getting the new solar array. “But as a whole, the community looks at it like, ‘Wow, this is a big change. You really are putting your money where you mouth is. You really do want to help the community.'”