Solar energy seems like a logical solution to answer the power needs of the western United States, which can receive over 300 sunny days a year. The people of the Moapa River Indian Reservation recognize this and are set to begin construction on a 910,000 panel solar plant capable of generating 250 MW of solar power, which will help to ease some of the impact that coal energy has on their lands.
Called the Moapa Solar Energy Center, the project involves the development of about 2,000 acres of tribal land near the Valley of Fire state park off of I-15 in Nevada. Once completed, it will be the largest solar plant on tribal lands in the United States and will generate enough energy to power nearly 120,000 homes. The project is expected to complete in 2016 and the Los Angeles City Council has greed to purchase power from the plant to help meet California’s renewable energy requirements.
Currently, the Moapa Paiutes struggles with the environmental impact from the Reid Gardner Power Station, which blows massive storms of coal ash over the reservation. “Unlike the old, dirty technologies used at the nearby Reid Gardner coal plant, this new solar project will not emit any hazardous emissions, wastes, or carbon pollution,” Senator Harry Reid D-Nevada said. While under construction, the solar plant will generate about 400 jobs, with about 20 permanent jobs once completed. According to legal tribal administrator Yvette Chevalier, “This is a perfect match, I think it’s going to pave the way for further economic development.”
images © Moapa Paiutes ‘An Ill Wind’