Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

September 23, 2010

Contacts: Sean Henderson: 406.682.4847;

                Leith Edgar: 303.236.4588;             


Ennis National Fish Hatchery staff earns Department of the Interior Environmental Leadership Award for installation of a solar system 


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Staff of Ennis National Fish Hatchery recently received the Department of the Interior’s Environmental Leadership Award for implementing a solar energy project that reduced the hatchery’s carbon footprint.


The staff was instrumental in the installation of a solar-energy system that was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Recovery Act provided $179,000 to the hatchery for the installation of the photovoltaic system, which was completed in October 2009.

“We are honored to receive this award from the Department. It’s great for the Ennis community to receive this recognition for its environmental stewardship. The whole Ennis staff felt obliged to do more to cut energy consumption and we brainstormed ways to reduce the hatchery’s carbon footprint. Fortunately, the Recovery Act provided us the funding to see our dreams of going green grow into this state-of-the-art solar system,” said Sean Henderson, acting project leader of Ennis NFH.

Initial production through the first half of the year indicates that annual electric generation by the photovoltaic system will be 32,000 killowatt-hours (kwh), or 89% of the consumptive use by Ennis NFH. The solar array was expected to generate 20 kwh at peak production, but has now exceeded expectations by producing 24 kwh. The hatchery averages approximately five to seven kwh of use during daylight hours.


Since the system is exceeding the hatchery’s needs, the extra power is being fed back to the grid. When the sun goes down the hatchery then uses power from the grid.  The new electric meter is able to credit the station for killowatts going into the grid, as well as debiting those coming out. Ennis NFH partnered with North Western Energy on an Electric Net Metering agreement. This agreement identifies Ennis NFH as a customer-generator, whereby the cost of electricity used by Ennis NFH will be offset by the electricity generated by the photovoltaic system and fed back to the electric grid.


Ennis NFH was not always so energy efficient. The hatchery’s staff recognized the potential for such a system years ago. Tom Pruitt, hatchery project leader at the time, researched information on the installation of solar panels at Service stations and prepared for the possibility of installing a large solar array at Ennis NFH for production of electricity when funding became available. He then waited for an opportunity to see his vision to fruition. That opportunity came along in the form of Recovery Act funding. Once the project was approved, Shanks Electric Corporation, a Helendale, Calif. firm, performed the installation using subcontractors from Montana.


The energy-efficient hatchery is a step in the right direction for the Service, which is working toward compliance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Act requires Federal agencies to obtain five percent of their total energy from renewable sources from 2010-2012, and 7.5 percent in the years following 2012. 


Ennis NFH is the largest facility in the Service’s National Broodstock Program, and is one of only two rainbow trout broodstock hatcheries in the National Fish Hatchery System.  It produces 20 million rainbow trout eggs annually for research facilities; universities; and federal, state, and tribal hatcheries in 23 states. The facility also produces 350,000 rainbow trout for recreational fishing, creating 5 million angler days and generating $50 million per year in economic benefits.  These fish help to replenish and encourage sustainable trout populations and provide angling opportunities for recreational users.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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