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Nye officials extend moratorium on commercial solar applications

As evidenced by the fierce public pushback in the past two years, it’s clear Pahrump area residents do not want to see large-scale commercial solar developments popping up in or around the valley, but what about other communities in Nye County?

In order to allow the county time to determine just that, last year the Nye County Commission instituted a temporary moratorium on renewable energy generation facilities, specifically targeting commercial solar applications. In the intervening six months, officials with Nye County Planning have been working with town board members in Amargosa, Beatty and Tonopah to figure out what those communities would like to see in terms of local regulation for the ever-growing solar industry. However, with the moratorium set to expire this month, Nye County Planning Director Brett Waggoner asked for more time to nail down all the details, a request that the commission promptly granted.

The moratorium was formally extended for another six months but, as Waggoner explained, that does not necessarily mean that it will stay in effect for that length of time.

“There is language that we did add… to not lock us in to necessarily six-months no matter what, to give us a provision to lift the moratorium if we are able to adopt an ordinance in the near future,” he stated during the commission’s Tuesday, May 16 meeting.

Waggoner explained that different geographical areas in the county each have differing concerns about solar generation facilities. Unlike in Pahrump, where residents seem dead-set against any such development, other communities are open to possibly allowing solar on lands surrounding, but not within, their town.

“My direction I am going now, with what I have heard, is pretty much a simplistic approach that would allow us the opportunity to address specific concerns with specific locations, instead of trying to come up with a one-size-fits-all for the whole entire county. And that would just be a simple requirement for a development agreement, like we have for certain other things,” Waggoner stated.

Another meeting is scheduled for May 23 with two board members from Amargosa and another two from Beatty, Waggoner said. He noted that Tonopah board members have been invited but he doesn’t believe they will attend, as a majority of the solar development proposed in the Tonopah area is within Esmeralda County, which that town straddles and over which Nye County does not have jurisdiction.

Aside from continuing to gather community input, with most of the proposed solar developments in Nye County aiming to utilize Bureau of Land Management Lands, Waggoner added that he is still working with the Nye County District Attorney’s Office to figure out just how far the county can go in terms of regulating developments on federally-managed land.

“I do like what you are doing here, because there are communities that are actually encouraging solar, is what I am hearing… So I think it’s a good solution,” Nye County Commissioner Debra Strickland remarked, with commission chair Bruce Jabbour chiming in, “We certainly appreciate what you are doing with them (town boards), having these different meetings and workshops.”

The motion to approve the resolution extending the moratorium on applications for renewable energy generation facilities passed 5-0. The resolution, title number 2023-15, can be found online at www.NyeCountyNV.gov

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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