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New Projects on Tribal Land Add 200MW to Nevada’s Renewable Energy Portfolio

Posted 11 March 2015 5:26 PM by Laura Abram

With construction underway on the 250 megawatt (MW) Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in southern Nevada, First Solar is now working on two additional projects on Tribal land that, when completed, would add 200MW to Nevada’s renewable energy portfolio.

The 100MW Aiya Solar Project is the second solar energy project First Solar is working on with the Moapa Band of Paiutes. Located near the gateway to the Moapa River Indian Reservation on Highway 168, approximately 40 miles north of Las Vegas, Aiya will connect to the grid through NV Energy’s Reid Gardner substation, directly adjacent to the reservation. The Aiya Solar Project will create approximately 300 jobs during construction, which will be completed near the end of 2016.

“The Tribe is proud of our endeavors with the Aiya solar project,” said Darren Daboda, Chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council. “As stewards of our Tribal lands, we encourage utilization of sustainable energy solutions, which our ancestors instilled into a holistic approach to use the natural resources in a positive way.”

First Solar also has been working with the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe on the development of the 100MW Snow Mountain solar power plant on the Snow Mountain Reservation in the northwestern part of the Las Vegas Valley. “The site is ideal for a solar energy facility because it is easily accessible from Highway 95 and is directly adjacent to NV Energy’s Northwest substation which connects the Las Vegas Valley to the power grid,” said Kathryn Arbeit, Southwestern Regional Director of Project Development for First Solar.

The Snow Mountain project will generate significant income for the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe from lease payments and consulting fees for up to a 50-year lease period. “As the descendants of the valley’s original inhabitants, we are responsible for taking care of the land for future generations,” said Benny Tso, Chairman of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribal Council. “This project harmoniously links our need for economic diversification with our role as caretaker of the land.” First Solar also has committed to preferential hiring of qualified Native Americans when construction begins.

Scoping meetings with the Bureau of Indian Affairs were conducted in mid-January for both projects, and additional public input is currently being solicited while information for the Environmental Impact Report is being gathered. Together, the projects will provide enough electricity to meet the annual energy needs of approximately 50,000 homes, displacing 400,000 metric tons of CO2 annually - the equivalent of taking about 75,000 cars off the road.

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