U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved a 350 MW solar energy project on tribal trust land of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians in Clark County, Nev. According to the Department of the Interior (DOI), the project is the first-ever utility-scale solar project approved for development on tribal lands.
Salazar's Record of Decision approves the construction, operation and maintenance of a low-impact PV facility and associated infrastructure on about 2,000 acres of the tribe's reservation, located 30 miles north of Las Vegas.
Proposed by K Road Moapa Solar LLC, the project will be built in three phases of 100 MW to 150 MW. In addition to PV arrays, major additional project components include a 500 kV transmission line to deliver power to the grid and a 12 kV transmission line to the existing Moapa Travel Plaza after Phase I is complete. About 12 acres of U.S. public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management will be required for the 500 kV transmission line.
To minimize and mitigate potential environmental impacts, a Desert Tortoise Translocation Plan, Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy and Weed Management Plan will be implemented, and natural-resources monitoring by qualified biologists will be conducted during all surface disturbing activities.
The project will generate lease income for the tribe, create new jobs and employment opportunities for tribal members, and connect the existing tribally owned Travel Plaza to the electrical grid, decreasing the Travel Plaza's dependence on a diesel-powered generator, the DOI notes.