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Press Release



Secretary Salazar Visits Landmark Solar Energy Project under Construction on Nevada Public Lands


Hundreds of construction workers on site, installing solar panels


09/20/2011


Contact: Adam Fetcher (DOI) 202 208-6416


CLARK COUNTY, Nevada – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today visited the Silver State North Solar Project, a renewable energy project under construction on U.S. public lands in southern Nevada. With an estimated completion date in December, First Solar Inc.’s 50-megawatt facility would be the first large-scale solar project on public lands to contribute power to the grid.

“Our nation’s clean energy future is happening right now,” said Secretary Salazar, who approved the project for construction on public lands last October. “We are harnessing a vast, renewable energy source here in our own backyard with American know-how, equipment and workers. This is a model of industry and government working together to strengthen local economies by generating good jobs and reliable power as we strive to become energy independent.”

During the visit, Salazar met with First Solar officials, as well as representatives from NV Energy, which has contracted to purchase the project’s energy output. Salazar toured the construction site where approximately 200 workers are currently on the job installing photovoltaic panels. First Solar is estimated to create 300 full-time jobs over the course of construction.

Located in the Ivanpah Valley, 40 miles south of Las Vegas, Silver State North was the first utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar project approved on U.S. public lands in Nevada. The 50-megawatt plant is being built on 618 acres near the town of Primm. When operational, the facility will generate enough energy to power 9,000-15,000 local homes.

First Solar has several other solar projects under development in Nevada and expects to invest more than $300 million into the state’s economy through wages, development costs, material purchases and taxes. A leading manufacturer of photovoltaic solar modules, the company is creating more than 6,500 jobs nationwide, including through its R&D and manufacturing facility in Ohio and another factory under construction in Arizona.

The Silver State North Solar Project is one of several projects Interior has approved as part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to encourage a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewable energy on public lands. The priority initiative includes an approach to processing existing applications for renewable energy development on public lands in a coordinated, focused manner with full environmental analysis and public review.

In the past 18 months, Interior has approved 20 major renewable energy projects, including 13 commercial-scale solar energy facilities that combined will create about 8,600 construction and operational jobs and produce nearly 5,000 megawatts of energy, enough to power approximately 1.5 million American homes.

First Solar has plans to construct up to an additional 350 megawatts at the site; new construction for future project phases will require additional supplemental environmental review and analysis.

Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees more than 2.5 million acres in Clark County, Nevada, including over 1.1 million acres managed for conservation. This includes over 709,000 acres of habitat the BLM has designated primarily for the conservation of the threatened desert tortoise.

A fact sheet on the Silver State North Solar Project is available here.

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