Plans Scrapped for NV Solar Project

FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2021

Last week, developers for what was slated to be the largest solar photovoltaic project in Nevada, withdrew its plans “in response to recent communication” with the federal Bureau of Land Management.


The “Battle Born Solar Project” was previously slated to be built on a 9,200-acre (more than 14 square miles) facility on public land roughly 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas for a price of $1 billion. Once completed, the solar farm was projected to have an 850 megawatt capacity—roughly one-tenth of the state’s total capacity and enough to provide daytime energy to 500,000 homes.


What Happened


According to reports, Oakland, California-based Solar Partners VII LLC, who sponsored the project alongside Arevia Power and others, withdrew its application in response to communication with the agency. However, the company added that it reserved the right to refile an application “should BLM policy change to allow for solar development in the original application area.”


The project was first announced in April 2020, but did not find favor with the Bureau’s review of a dozen large-scale renewable energy projects, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.


“The Battle Born project rated as low priority both in the initial ranking and after the proponent provided additional information and requested reconsideration,” said Kirsten Cannon, Bureau spokesperson.


The agency, she added, is “committed to the right renewable energy projects in the right place with the right plan.”

In that same year, it was reported that Nevada voters approved an initiative requiring the state to obtain 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. To get the project moving on a fast track, Gov. Steve Sisolak went as far as to send a letter to federal officials.


Currently, the state generates roughly 28% of its utility-scale electricity from renewables.


However, in October, a presentation by the sponsors said that the construction on the project was slated to begin in 2022 and was slated to created more than 1,100 construction jobs, add $530 million to the state’s economy and would offset 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 annually.


The solar project was planned to be built onto of a raised prehistoric sea bed, known as the Mormon Mesa. Located just northeast of the Moapa Valley near Overton, Nevada, the Battle Born project quickly drew opposition from naturalists, environmentalists, recreation enthusiasts, tribal groups and local residents for its potential impact on the area.


In wake of the recreational activities being threatened, in addition to blocked access of massive landscape art installation, Double Negative by Michael Heizer, a group of residents organized a “Save Our Mesa” group, which argued that the installation of a solar farm would be an eye sore and that it would also deter tourists.


Although the project has been cancelled, the BLM Southern Nevada office is reported to have multiple solar energy projects in various stages of review, totaling more than 3,000 megawatts.


Gemini Solar


While the Battle Born project has seen the end of its development, for now, another Nevada-based project (also developed by Arevia Power and Australia-based Quinbrook Infrastructure Partner) is reportedly pressing forward.


In January of last year, the Department of the Interior announced its approval of construction for solar farm project, Gemini Solar. The sign off arrived regardless that the project was waiting on a final permit and an additional U.S. Clean Water Act review.


Prior to the approval, in December 2019, the Public Utilities Commission granted NV Energy approval to add the solar farm, an endeavor that was projected to help move the utility company toward being compliant with renewable energy measure Senate Bill 358.


Slated to be located on federal lands, the farm will be located northeast of Las Vegas, in the Mojave Desert, spanning 7,100 acres.


Addition project developed is reported to include restoration techniques to help mitigate damage to local plant populations, however, there was still noted to be a risk of “potential permanent and temporary impacts to cacti and yucca,” including “mortality, morbidity, and disturbance to individuals or populations.” Relocations of local wildlife was also recommended, though reintroduction of native life is also an option when Gemini is completed.


During height construction, the project is expected to create up to 2,000 jobs.


By May, the Trump administration was reported to have approved the construction of the solar farm as well.


Once completed in 2023, the solar farm is expected to produce a 690 megawatt capacity of energy, or enough to power 260,000 homes in Las Vegas and potentially parts of Souther California as well. The completed project will also feature 380 megawatts of power storage, consisting of four-hour lithium-ion batteries.


Tagged categories: Energy codes; Energy efficiency; Government; Government contracts; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Solar; Solar energy

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