This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 17, 2010

Interior Department OKs Second Large Solar Project on Nevada Public Lands

Photo of a metal, parabolic trough.

The Amargosa Farm Road solar project will use concentrating solar power technology with two 250-megawatt parabolic trough power plants.
Credit: DOI

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on November 15 approved the second large-scale solar energy project on U.S. public lands in Nevada. The Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project, a 500-megawatt (MW) facility, will provide electricity to about 150,000 homes. The project, an initiative of Solar Millennium LLC, is expected to create 1,300 construction jobs and up to 200 permanent operation jobs. Last month, DOI green lighted the first solar energy project on U.S. public lands in Nevada, First Solar's Silver State North Solar Project, a 50-megawatt facility to be built in the Ivanpah Valley, 40 miles south of Las Vegas.

The Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project will employ concentrating solar power technology that will include two 250-megawatt parabolic trough power plants equipped with thermal energy storage capability. The project will be located in the Amargosa Valley on 4,350 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The project has undergone extensive environmental review, officials said. BLM, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service worked closely with Solar Millennium to develop an innovative mitigation plan for water use that can serve as a model for future solar projects. The project will have a net-neutral benefit on the plant and animal species found at nearby Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and the Devils Hole, a cavern located within the refuge. BLM also worked with the developer to reduce the approved project's footprint from 7,630 acres to 6,320 acres. The BLM will require a natural color palette and minimum night lighting measures to reduce visual impacts on the local community.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's incentives for specified energy programs, Solar Millennium would be eligible for approximately $1 billion in investment tax credits. The company is also eligible to apply for financing through the DOE Title 17 Loan Guarantee Program. The project is negotiating to sell electricity to NV Energy under the terms of a power purchase agreement.

Also, last month crews broke ground on October 19 for the One Nevada Transmission Line that will carry electrical power over a 235-mile system. When completed, the 500-kilovolt line will extend from north of Las Vegas, Nevada to Burley, Idaho, providing a critical link for the northern and southern power grids serving Nevada. The line will provide the transmission infrastructure needed to make proposed wind, solar, and geothermal power generation projects throughout Nevada viable. See the DOI press release and an Amargosa fact sheet.