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Details emerge in new solar project in Nye County

A California company wants to build a 1,600-megawatt solar energy generation facility in Nye County near Tonopah.

Sandstone Solar Energy’s preliminary plans for the facility on 20,000 acres of federal public lands were in a filing sent this week to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.

The project will have eight solar towers, along with infrastructure that includes power blocks, transmission lines, access roads and water lines, the filing from the Santa Monica-based company shows. Sandstone officials did not return requests for comment Wednesday. A follow-up message was left on Thursday.

Sandstone Solar Energy LLC filed with the Nevada Secretary of State on June 8 of this year, records show.

It lists an address that is the same as SolarReserve, the Santa Monica-based company behind the Crescent Dunes solar plant in the Tonopah area. SolarReserve announced the Sandstone project at a solar celebration of the Crescent Dunes plant last fall. A short time later, the plant went offline for about eight months for repairs and maintenance.

The Crescent Dunes project received a $737 million federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2011, a step that was seen as critical for its operation.

In the paperwork with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, no officers are listed for Sandstone Solar Energy. A list of officers is due June 30, 2018, the records show.

SolarReserve’s website includes information on the proposed Sandstone project announced last fall. The website touts Sandstone as having “close to 2 gigawatts of power … The project is the same scale as the Hoover Dam.”

The proposed site is slightly north of Tonopah, a Nye County town of about 2,400 people about 210 miles from Las Vegas. (Wes Rand/Las Vegas Review-Journal) Records show the proposed site would have access to Nevada Highway 89, commonly known as Gabbs Pole Line Road. That is the same road that provides access to the Crescent Dunes solar plant.

Construction is proposed to start in early 2022. The project will stagger construction of the towers and take five and a half years to complete the facility, state records show. That schedule could change based on the permitting process.

Because the project is on federal land, the company needs U.S. Bureau of Land Management approval, a process that includes an environmental review and opportunity for public comment. The company has submitted its application with the BLM.

Once the BLM process is completed, the company will apply to the PUC for construction permits. Sandstone also has paid $10,000 to the Nevada Department of Wildlife, which also must approve the application. Records show that check was written July 20 by SolarReserve LLC. Sandstone solar project. Sandstone is noted on the check.

This is a developing story. Check for more information upcoming in the Pahrump Valley Times.

Ben Botkin is a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and David Jacobs is with the Pahrump Valley Times

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