Last Friday (March 21) the Moapa Band of Paiutes were joined by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) and representatives from First Solar and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in breaking ground on the first giant solar project located on Native American lands. As part of the project tribe members will help build the project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation north of Las Vegas.
"Today's event marks a very important milestone for Nevada, the Moapa Band of Paiutes, and tribal nations throughout the country," said Reid. "The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar project is the first utility-scale solar project on tribal land and will deliver much needed economic benefits to the Tribe and Nevada. It will also create about 400 construction jobs, and replace dirty energy with clean solar power.”
"This is an important step in becoming a leader in Indian Country and will help to create a model for other tribes to follow," said Aletha Tom, chairperson of the Moapa Paiute 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 available land on which to build them."
The Moapa have been fighting against fossil fueled power for a long time now, including last year’s 16-mile “Coal to Clean Energy” walk organized to help encourage the shutdown of the nearby 557 megawatts Reid Gardner Generating Station, which is powered by coal. Tribal members have said the power plant has caused respiratory and other illnesses.
The completion of the Moapa solar project and another project will help shut down the 2.25 gigawatt Navajo Generating Station, which provides power to LADWP customers. "By working together, we will provide jobs and significant economic benefits to the Tribe and Clark County as well as helping LADWP deliver clean, renewable energy to its customers,” Jim Hughes, CEO of First Solar.
The project is being constructed and will be owned by Moapa Southern Paiute Solar, LLC (a subsidiary of First Solar Electric, LLC). It is being built on 2,000 acres of Moapa River Indian Reservation land and includes an onsite substation and a new 5.5 mile 500 kV transmission line. The line will connect the project to the existing Crystal Substation, serving energy users in California. It is slated for completion in 2015.Tweet