First solar project on public lands powered up

Enbridge Inc. (NYSE: ENB) and First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) have completed the 50-MW Silver State North Solar Project in Clark County, Nevada.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on May 7 “flipped the switch” on the Enbridge Silver State North solar project, the first large-scale solar energy facility on U.S. public lands to deliver power to American consumers.

The project is the first solar PV project on public lands under the administration’s strategy to open up vast tracts in the West for renewable energy development.

An administration policy has been to streamline the approval process on federal lands, which often takes up to seven years to complete.

“Silver State North was the first solar project we approved on public lands in Nevada and –18 months later — the first of our priority projects to provide clean energy to the power grid. This is a model of industry and government working together to strengthen local economies, generating good jobs and affordable, reliable and sustainable power,” Salazar said.

In the last three years, the Interior Department has authorized 29 large-scale renewable energy projects on or involving public lands, including 16 solar facilities, five5 wind farms, and eight geothermal plants. When completed, these projects will provide more than 6,500 MW.

Located 40 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada, on 618 acres, Silver State North is a 50-MW plant that was developed by First Solar and owned by Enbridge.

First Solar and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a relocation/translocation plan for desert tortoises found on the site.

Enbridge acquired Silver State North in March 2012. First Solar developed and constructed the facility using its advanced thin film photovoltaic modules, and will operate and maintain the project for Enbridge. NV Energy will purchase the facility’s output under a 25-year power purchase agreement.