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Largest generator of solar energy to build near Pahrump

A new renewable energy plant is proposed for the Mojave Desert just outside of Pahrump.

Yellow Pine, a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun recently submitted an application to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.

An initial application filed on June 24 provides notice of the need for a federal agency environmental assessment to construct the 3,000-acre Yellow Pine Solar Project approximately 10 miles southeast of Pahrump near the intersection of Nevada State Route 160 and Tecopa Road.

Steven Stengel, spokesman for NextEra Energy Resources said the three key reasons for picking the location are solar resource, proximity to transmission and available land.

“These are the same three key attributes you look for when siting any solar project, regardless of state,” Stengel said in an email.

“This is not our first project in Nevada,” he added. “We have a 20-megawatt solar project called Mountain View currently in operation and we have a 250-megawatt solar project called Silver State South that we just completed construction on.”

The submitted application is an amended version of the 2011 initial application that was filed by NextEra Energy Resources, LLC to the BLM for the Sandy Valley Solar Project. Because the application was filed prior to the BLM’s Final Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, it was considered grandfathered.

Some, however, said that the project could be too close to ecosystems.

Basin and Range Watch, a Beatty-based nonprofit that strives to conserve the deserts in Nevada and California argued that the area has two “translocation areas” for desert tortoises. Additionally, the project is less than a quarter-mile from one of the tallest Mojave yuccas yet to be found, nonprofit said.

“The project site itself contains numerous Mojave yuccas and Joshua trees, as well as healthy undisturbed old growth Mojave Desert scrub,” Basin and Range Watch said on its website.

Stengel, meanwhile, said that it’s “very early in the process” to talk about environmental concerns.

“All of the issues will be reviewed and thoroughly studied during the permitting process so that the final project will minimize, to the greatest extent possible, any environmental impact,” Stengel said in an email.

The site for the proposed facility will also require a right-of-way grant from the Bureau of Land Management, pursuant to the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA). An environmental assessment or environmental impact statement will have to be conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Yellow Pine Solar Project is a 250-megawatt photovoltaic solar-power electric generating facility.

According to the documents, Yellow Pine Solar Project would provide renewable energy to Nevada’s electrical transmission grid at the Sandy Valley substation via construction of a new transmission line or by looping into an existing Valley Electric Association transmission line.

The plant would generate electricity by using multiple arrays of photovoltaic panels that are electrically connected to associated power inverter units.

The permitting process is expected to take between 18 and 24 months, officials said. Construction is anticipated to begin in the third quarter of 2019 and continue for up to 18 months.

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