The Moapa Band of Paiutes have a new, giant solar plant to celebrate—as well as the retirement of a coal plant that had led to increased pollution near tribal lands. That’s thanks to the commissioning of the 250 megawatt (MW) Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project near Las Vegas, which was commissioned today (March 17). It’s the first utility-scale solar project built on tribal land.
The commissioning of the project, built by First Solar, was attended by the Maopa Band of Paiutes as well as Nevada’s Senators, Dean Heller (R) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and First Solar officials. The project serve Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) customers, powering roughly 111,000 homes through a long term power purchase agreement. It was commissioned hours after NV Energy flipped a switch turning off the last coal-fired plant at the Reid Gardner Generating Station. The first three units were shut down in 2014.
"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."
"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,” Masto said. "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."
During construction the project created 115 jobs for tribal members and other Native Americans. The lease on the project will provide the tribe and its members with revenues over the life of the project. It also was cited and completed in a way that preserves their land and cultural heritage as the tribe was involved throughout the process.
"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," Heller stated.
"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."Tweet