Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project

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Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project
CountryUnited States
LocationClark County
Coordinates36°31′48″N 114°46′13″W / 36.53000°N 114.77028°W / 36.53000; -114.77028Coordinates: 36°31′48″N 114°46′13″W / 36.53000°N 114.77028°W / 36.53000; -114.77028
Construction beganMarch 21, 2014
Commission dateMarch 17, 2017
Owner(s)Capital Dynamics
Operator(s)First Solar Energy Services
Solar farm
TypeFlat-panel PV
fixed tilt
Site area2,000 acres (8.09 km2)
Power generation
Nameplate capacity250 MWAC
Capacity factor28.2% (average 2017-2019)
Annual net output617 GW·h, 308 MW·h/acre

The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project is a 250 megawatt (MWAC) photovoltaic power plant located in Clark County, Nevada on the Moapa River lands of the Southern Paiute people.[1] The project was commissioned in March 2017 and was constructed by First Solar and its sub-contractors in close consultation with the Moapa Band of Paiutes and federal agencies.[2] It is the first utility-scale solar project to be located on north American tribal lands, and is anticipated to evolve as a model for similar future economic and environmental partnerships.[3]

Project details[edit]

The project is located 30 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada on the 72,000 acre (112 sq mile) Moapa River Indian Reservation.[4] It is the culmination of seven years of planning, including a final 2.5 years of construction work. The project entailed clearing a total of approximately 2,000 acres (2.2 sq miles) in dispersed sections that minimize the desert habitat and tribal cultural impacts. 115 Native Americans were employed throughout the development, including about 50 local tribal members, along with another 485 local subcontractors during the construction phase.[5]

The project was originally developed by K Road Power Holdings, which was acquired by First Solar in 2013.[6] TerraSmart provided foundation and racking services,[7] and First Solar provided nearly 3.2 million CdTe thin film solar panels.[2] The new facility also includes an onsite substation, and a new 5.5 mile 500 kV transmission line that connects to Nevada Power Company's Crystal Substation, serving energy users in California.[1] First Solar Energy Services is providing ongoing operations and maintenance support, sustaining five permanent jobs which currently include two tribal members who are certified electricians.[5]

The plant is currently owned by Capital Dynamics.[8] The power is being sold to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) under a 25-year power purchase agreement.[9]

Environment considerations[edit]

Based on the Environmental Impact Statement and Biological Opinion rendered in connection with United States Fish and Wildlife Service, First Solar has provided the Tribe, together with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, with more than $1.6 million in mitigation fees for protection of the threatened desert tortoise.[1]

Commissioning of the plant was shortly preceded by closure of the 558 MW coal-fired Reid Gardner Generating Station bordering the reservation.[5] The project also accelerated LADWP's California-mandated withdrawal from support of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station.[9]

Tribal benefits and opportunities[edit]

The project is providing long-term revenue for the Tribe through land lease payments, consulting fees, and an increase in sales of goods & services.[1] It has also increased education on energy assistance programs aimed at stabilizing tribal member's electricity costs.[10] The Maopa Band of Paiutes is currently pursuing additional renewable energy opportunities, including development of the 300 MW Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm.[11][12]

Electricity production[edit]

Generation (MW·h) of Moapa Southern Paiute [13]
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2016 6,145 39,091 31,871 77,107
2017 35,003 35,035 56,293 59,702 65,350 65,047 60,985 61,388 55,938 55,033 40,329 38,482 628,585
2018 30,482 43,802 52,572 60,875 63,137 65,799 61,742 61,846 58,715 47,824 43,237 34,025 624,056
2019 35,539 37,677 42,792 56,562 57,530 63,174 63,157 63,677 56,190 56,125 41,417 25,880 599,720
Average Annual Production (years 2017-2019) --> 617,453

Moapa Travel Plaza microgrid[edit]

A ceremony to inaugurate completion of a solar-hybrid microgrid system for the Tribe's travel business center and largest employer at the Valley of Fire exit off Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas was separately held on April 8, 2014 by the Tribal Council, and joined by officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and system developer Stronghold Engineering.[14] This system includes nine 28 kW Soitec CPV CX-S530 trackers, battery storage, and three diesel generators meeting Tier 4 EPA emission standards. The $2.38 million USDA-funded project is expected to save approximately $700,000 and 3.6 million CO2 pounds in annual fuel costs.[15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "First Solar Projects: Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project". First Solar. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Heller, Cortez Masto join in commissioning Moapa solar project". Las Vegas Sun. March 17, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  3. ^ "Sun Rises on Tribal Energy Future in Nevada". US DOE. March 24, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  4. ^ "Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, The First Solar Farm On Tribal Land, Is Now Online". Clean Technica. March 22, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Moapa Band of Paiutes Share Vision of State's Solar Power Future". Las Vegas Business Press. March 27, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  6. ^ "Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, Nevada". Power Technology | Energy News and Market Analysis. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  7. ^ Moapa Southern Paiute Solar, TerraSmart
  8. ^ "First Solar sells Moapa Solar Project to Capital Dynamics". Electric Light & Power. March 31, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Moapa Paiute Tribe, LADWP and First Solar Break Ground on 250MW Solar Project". Business Wire. March 21, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  10. ^ "Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs | Department of Energy". Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  11. ^ "Nevada Utility is Putting $2 Billion into Solar Power and Storage". Renewable Energy World. June 1, 2018. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  12. ^ "Commission Approves Largest Clean Energy Investment in Nevada History". T&D World. January 8, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  13. ^ "Moapa Southern Paiute, Monthly". Electricity Data Browser. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  14. ^ "Moapa Microgrid System Ribbon Cutting". Stronghold Engineering. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  15. ^ "Solar panels good deal for Moapa tribe". Pahrump Valley Times. April 11, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  16. ^ "Moapa Paiute Bring 252 kW Solar CPV System Online in Valley of Fire". Solar Reviews. April 8, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2019.

External links[edit]