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Sunshine Valley solar project is moving forward

The Sunshine Valley solar project, the biggest commercial development in Amargosa Valley in years, is gaining ground.

The parent of the project, San Francisco-based First Solar, was recently awarded a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from Southern California Edison. The agreement is now pending approval from the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The company is developing an approximately 100-megawatt alternating current solar project located on 745 acres of private land that the company intends to lease in Amargosa Valley.

“The Amargosa Valley is one of several very good places to build a solar project. It has a lot of sun, available private land and available grid interconnection cost to competitively serve the California market,” Laura Abram, director for public affairs at First Solar said.

First Solar expects to break ground in January 2019 with project completion in January 2020 per the PPA, Abram added.

Sunshine Valley received a Development Agreement from Nye County in 2013. The project also received its Compliance Order under the Utility Environmental Protection Act from the PUC.

“When fully operational, the project will generate enough clean solar energy to serve the needs of about 23,000 average Nevada homes per year, displacing approximately 178,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, the equivalent of taking about 26,000 cars off the road,” the company’s press release said.

Sunshine Valley also has to receive its final permit to construct, which will be the final environmental approval. With that, the project will have received all of its environmental permits required for construction, Abram said.

“First Solar’s projects are typically low-lying, with minimal noise, lighting and traffic and do not use water to generate electricity. The project will utilize First Solar’s advanced thin film solar photovoltaic panels,” she said.

Abram also said the project is expected to create a construction workforce of 300 and up to seven full-time operations jobs.

Officials in Amargosa Valley, where businesses are scarce, expect the project to be an economic boon.

“We’ve had very little commercial growth in 20 years. The last big project we had was Longstreet (Inn) in ‘95,” Amargosa Valley Town Board Administrator Mike Cottingim said.

The Sunshine Valley solar project is going to be located on private land, that First Solar intends to lease.

While Amargosa Valley is not going to charge the company any fees, Cottingim hopes the town will benefit from jobs and production that will support the local economy.

“And hopefully that will mean trickle-down economics,” he said.

First Solar already operates several facilities in southern Nevada including Boulder City and Primm. Several other projects, primarily in Clark County, are currently being developed. Sunshine Valley is the only project the company has in Nye County with a PPA.

“We see a lot of future potential for continued utility-scale solar development in the county,” Abram said.

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