First Solar and the Moapa Band of Paiutes celebrated the commissioning of the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project on March 17. The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project is a 250MWac solar energy project capable of generating enough clean energy to power an estimated 111,000 homes.
Located on the Moapa River Indian reservation approximately 30 miles north of Las Vegas, this facility is the first-ever utility-scale solar power plant to be built on tribal land and has a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with LADWP to bring clean, renewable energy to Los Angeles residents.
Sen. Dean Heller, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada State Energy Office Director Angela Dykema, Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, executives from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and other community and energy industry leaders joined into the celebration. Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs also participated in this event.
“I’m proud to see the day has finally arrived to commission the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project. The tribe is truly embarking on a new journey while serving as a trendsetter with this venture. This project is the first and largest utility-scale solar plant on tribal lands. Nevada is no stranger to successful solar projects, and this is another great example of that. Again, congratulations to the tribe on its impending success,” said United States Senator Dean Heller.
“There is no doubt renewable energy is the way of the future for energy sustainability, and Nevada has the unparalleled natural resources to be a national leader in investment and development of clean energy technology and job creation,” said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. “The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project is the perfect example of this great potential. I will continue to fight for commonsense policies and projects like this one to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, invest in clean energy, and create good paying jobs.”
For the Moapa Band of Paiutes, this solar energy project has proven to be an ideal economic development opportunity, providing lease revenues over the lifetime of the project and about 115 construction jobs for tribal members and other Native Americans, while also preserving their land and cultural heritage.
“As a first-of-its-kind project, the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project signifies our role as a leader in Indian Country, creating a template for other tribes to follow,” said Darren Daboda, Chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council. “If our small tribe can accomplish this, then others can also. There are endless opportunities in renewable energy, and tribes across the nation have the perfect areas in which to build utility-scale projects.”
The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, constructed and operated by First Solar, features more than 3.2 million advanced First Solar thin film photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. This equates to more than 25 million square feet of solar panels, or enough to cover more than 450 NFL football fields. The energy will serve LADWP under a 25-year PPA.
“We look forward to doing more projects like this in Nevada,” said Georges Antoun, Chief Commercial Officer for First Solar. “Our PV technology is setting the standard for affordable, clean renewable energy. By continuously innovating, we are driving down the cost of solar electricity and providing a solution that addresses energy security and water scarcity. We are delivering on our commitment to build a more sustainable energy future.”
By using renewable energy from the sun, this project will avoid approximately 341,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions that would have been produced if the electricity had been generated using fossil fuels - the equivalent of taking nearly 73,000 cars off the road. First Solar’s technology creates no air or water pollution and uses no water to generate electricity.
“We are very excited to begin receiving this clean renewable energy from the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, which will significantly help the City of Los Angeles to achieve 33 percent of all energy from renewable resources by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025,” said Reiko A. Kerr, Senior Assistant General Manager, LADWP Power System.”
(Photo: U.S. Senators Dean Heller, left, and Catherine Cortez Masto, right.)