La Paz County, Ariz., is not wasting any time in taking advantage of new legislation designed to spur economic development in the rural county – and solar is expected to play a crucial role.
The county recently issued a request-for-proposal (RFP) seeking companies to build 1.5 GW of utility-scale solar on land dedicated for economic development with the help of local Congressman Paul Gosar. In December, Gosar introduced legislation that allowed the county to purchase 8,800 acres of land from the federal government for commercial development. Shortly thereafter came the RFP.
“La Paz County is located between large population centers at a critical geographic intersection of solar, natural gas and transmission assets so there is no reason why we should not become one of the nation’s largest generators of reliable power,” said D.L Wilson, chairman of the La Paz County Board of Supervisors in a press release.
“Congressman Gosar’s determined leadership means that he has wasted no time hitting the ground running in this new administration to help our rural county navigate the federal property acquisition process in order to create an economic engine to participate in the high demand for sustainable energy,” he added.
La Paz County has some of the best insolation rates in the world which, when combined with its abundant land, makes it a natural location for large-scale solar development. The county plans to use the solar electricity to energize the 3.2 GW Ten West Link transmission line when it becomes operational.
Under the conditions of the RFP, developers would lease the county-owned land, designed to ensure much-needed tax revenues. The county – the least-populated in the state – is home to 20,489 people on 4,541 square miles of land.
According to the Parker Pioneer, firms interested in bidding for the development must show success in the following areas:
- Developing, permitting, financing and operating utility sized projects in California, Arizona or Nevada;
- Successful contracting with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO);
- Securing power-purchase agreements in markets served by the region;
- Strong balance sheet and income statements;
- Positive references from governmental entities; and
- A demonstrated willingness to team with La Paz County to support a development process to construct and operate a utility-scale project to interconnect with new or existing transmission assets in the region.