The Moapa Solar Energy Center Project in Nevada, located on 850 acres of tribal trust land, has been approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior, along with grants totaling $700,000 to other tribes for various sustainable-energy initiatives.
It’s the second such plant to be built on Moapa Paiute lands, with a site about 20 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Construction is just starting on the first, about 30 miles due north of Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. That one has been in the works for years and has already promised electricity to Los Angeles.
The second plant was announced on May 7 by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell as part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and is part of the effort to help tribes and other communities both cope with climate change and work to mitigate it.
The new facility is predicted to generate power for 60,000 homes, as well as create 500 construction-related jobs and 10 permanent ones, the DOI said in a statement. It also uses a minimum of water.
“Today’s announcement reflects the Obama Administration’s steadfast commitment to work with Indian Country leaders to promote strong, prosperous and resilient tribal economies and communities,” said Jewell in announcing the initiative. “This solar project and these grants also deliver on the President’s Climate Action Plan goals to spur important investments and jobs in tribal communities that can be leveraged to address some of the impacts from climate change that threaten tribal lands, waters and ways of life. The Moapa solar project will generate enough electricity to power 60,000 homes and will create hundreds of jobs and additional income for the tribe.”
Reducing or minimizing impacts on the ecosystem and wildlife is key to the project, according to a DOI fact sheet, and every effort has been made to keep environmental effects to a minimum. There’s a Desert Tortoise Translocation Plan, a Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy, a Raven Control Plan, a Restoration and Revegetation Plan and a Weed Management Plan, the DOI said. In addition, utility poles carrying electricity will be designed with state-of-the-art avian safety measures, the fact sheet said.
“This solar project is a tribute to the vision and determination of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians as well as a great day for Indian Country as a whole,” said Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn in the DOI statement. “As our nation’s diversified energy portfolio continues to grow, it is vital that tribal communities seize the opportunity to harness the ample renewable energy resources on their lands as a reliable and cost-effective way to power their homes, businesses and economies.”