May 22, 2020

Largest U.S. Solar Farm Gets Approval

On May 11, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) gave final approval for a $1 billion installation in the Nevada desert 33 miles northeast of Las Vegas, which will be the largest solar-powered project in the United States.

It is estimated the Gemini Solar Project, which has the financial backing of NV Energy and Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, could provide enough power for approximately 260,000 homes, which is enough to cover the residential population of Las Vegas itself. The two companies signed a 25-year deal in 2019 to take the solar farm’s output of 690 megawatts (MW)

According to the DOI, the on-site construction workforce is anticipated to average 500 to 700 construction workers, with a peak up to 900 at any one time and supporting up to an additional 1,100 jobs in the local community. It is also estimated that the project will contribute $712.5 million to the economy in wages and total output during construction.

The DOI expects the project to be constructed in two phases. The first phase of power could come online in 2021 and the final completion as early as 2022.

The project is unique among the nation’s other massive solar projects because it includes major battery capacity, 380 MW, as a way to continue to feed the grid overnight.

“Despite the challenges of the coronavirus, we’re pleased to see that Nevada will soon be home to one of the biggest solar projects in the world,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, quoted in the DOI press release. “The solar industry is resilient, and a project like this one will bring jobs and private investment to the state when we need it the most.”

The DOI approval also includes a right-of-way grant, and the authorized solar facilities include 34.5 kilovolt overhead and underground collector lines, a two-acre operation and maintenance facility, three substations, internal access roads, access roads along generation tie-lines, a perimeter road, perimeter fencing, water storage tanks for fire protection, drainage control features, a potential on-site water well or new water pipeline and improvements to the existing NV Energy facilities to support interconnection.

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