First Solar Commissions 250 MW Utility-Scale Solar Plant On Tribal Land

First Solar Inc. and the Moapa Band of Paiutes joined together with several community and energy leaders on Friday to celebrate the commissioning of the 250 MW Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, located on the Moapa River Indian reservation approximately 30 miles north of Las Vegas.

Capable of generating enough clean energy to power an estimated 111,000 homes, the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project has a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) in place with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to bring renewable energy to Los Angeles residents.

According to First Solar, this facility is the first-ever utility-scale solar power plant to be built on tribal land.

Notably, Sen. Dean Heller, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada State Energy Office Director Angela Dykema, Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, and executives from the LADWP were in attendance at the event. Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs also participated.

“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,” says 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,” adds Masto. “The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project is the perfect example of this great potential.”

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.

Darren Daboda, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council, comments, “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 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 the LADWP under a 25-year PPA.

“We look forward to doing more projects like this in Nevada,” says Georges Antoun, chief commercial officer for First Solar. “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.

“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,” concludes Reiko A. Kerr, senior assistant general manager for the LADWP Power System.

Photo courtesy of First Solar – U.S. Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., joined leaders of the Moapa Band of Paiutes for a commissioning ceremony of the 250 MW Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project near Las Vegas on Friday morning.


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