First Solar commissions 250 MW-AC project on Native American land

Last Thursday, First Solar commissioned the 250 MW-AC Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, marking the commissioning of one of the first utility-scale solar projects completed on tribal land in the United States.

The Department of the Interior first approved the project between the PV maker and developer in 2012, following an agreement between First Solar and  the Moapa Band of Paiutes. The project can power 11,000 homes and will provide electricity to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), through a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

“As a first-of-its-kind project, the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project signifies our role as a leader in Indian Country, creating a template for other tribes to follow,” said Darren Daboda, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council. “If our small tribe can accomplish this, then others can also. There are endless opportunities in renewable energy, and tribes across the nation have the perfect areas in which to build utility-scale projects.”

The project, which will operated by First Solar, features more than 3.2 million First Solar thin-film PV solar panels, which cover an area the size of 450 American football fields.

“We look forward to doing more projects like this in Nevada,” said Georges Antoun, chief commercial officer for First Solar. “Our PV technology is setting the standard for affordable, clean renewable energy. By continuously innovating, we are driving down the cost of solar electricity and providing a solution that addresses energy security and water scarcity.”

In September, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined leaders  of the Moapa Band of Paiutes and First Solar to announce approval of the 100-MW Aiya Solar Project on tribal trust land in Clark County, Nevada. It represents the second of four solar power facilities planned by First Solar and tribes in the area. First Solar is also currently working with the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe on another 100 MW facility at its Snow Mountain Reservation, and with the Fort Mojave Tribe on a 300 MW project at its Fort Mojave Reservation.

“We are very excited to begin receiving this clean renewable energy from the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, which will significantly help Los Angeles to achieve 33% of all energy from renewable resources by 2020 and 50% by 2025,” said Reiko A. Kerr, Senior Assistant General Manager, LADWP Power System.