weather icon Clear

The largest community solar plant goes online

The largest community solar project in the U.S. went online north of Pahrump on Wednesday.

Surrounded by rows of photovoltaic panels, a group of officials cut a green ribbon at the Valley Electric Association, Inc.’s 15-megawatt community solar project under a round of applause.

The project is a partnership between Valley Electric Association and Bombard Renewable Energy, a division of Bombard Electric, LLC, an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of MDU Resources Group, Inc., a Nevada-based company.

“This is a very unique project and we hope it will be the standard of future projects that represent a great balance between the environment and the community along with renewable energy,” said Bo Balzar, division manager of solar at Bombard Renewable Energy.

The solar panels will provide the energy to power approximately 35,000 homes each year and offset 550,000 metric tons of greenhouses gases, Balzar said.

“That’s the equivalent of planting nearly 14 million mature trees and saving over 400 million gallons of water compared to some of the traditional power sources,” he said.

Kristin Mettke, executive vice president of engineering and compliance at VEA said the power from the site will be connected directly to VEA’s power system.

“The power from the site is going to directly be connected to VEA’s power system and all of the power that is produced here will be used by VEA’s members. We are not selling this to another utility or off-grid,” Mettke said.

Under the program, the output from the project will be available for all VEA members at a lower price than their current electric rates. The program will be available to VEA members later this year, according to VEA’s press release.

The site was previously a habitat of the Mojave Desert tortoise. Valley Electric and Bombard Renewable Energy conducted a number of initiatives to mitigate the impacts on the desert tortoise.

During the construction, officials didn’t grade the site except for the middle, allowing photovoltaic panels to follow the natural contour. Officials also raised the panel height and put the panels further apart.

“This was all done to see if we can return vegetation and the desert tortoise back to this site. So next spring, we will be bringing the tortoises who are in our care right now back to this site and monitoring them and see if they want to stay,” Mettke said.

Under contract with Bombard Renewable Energy, VEA will purchase the power from the project for 30 years. The contract includes the cost to build, maintain and operate the plant at the 30-year rates.

“As part of this agreement with Bombard, we entered into a fixed rate power purchase agreement,” Mettke said. “Bombard will be the operator of the plant and we are going to be buying the power. It’s one of the lowest price solar energy contracts in the nation to date. This will help VEA provide low-cost renewable energy to our members and also help to assure rate stability.”

Angela Dykema, director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy said the project represents nearly a 10-to-1 return on Nevada’s investment.

“In November of 2016, our office awarded a three-year sales and use tax abatement along with a 20-year property tax incentive worth over $4 million,” Dykema said. “In return, the state of Nevada stands to gain more than $43 million from the capital investment by the facility, the property taxes paid, the school support taxes, as well as the jobs and employee payroll.”

The plant consists of 54,000 photovoltaic panels and occupies over 80 acres.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Air ambulance company responds to Pahrump transport cost concerns

The director of communications and government affairs of Air Methods, the parent company of Pahrump’s Mercy Air, has issued a response regarding the circumstances of a Pahrump resident who was billed more than $50,000 for an air ambulance flight from Pahrump to a Las Vegas medical facility.

1 transported to UMC Trauma after Nevada Highway 160 crash

Crews from Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services responded to what was described as a suspicious vehicle fire on Saturday, June 8 at approximately 9:41 p.m.

Nye County District Attorney’s Report

Editor’s note: The Nye County District Attorney’s Report is provided by the office of DA Chris Arabia. Plans call for it to be provided on a monthly basis as the information becomes available. This report is for May 2019 unless noted. Duplicate names represent separate cases.

Pahrump’s Laraine Babbitt crowned queen

Grace, elegance and poise were on full display as the five lovely ladies competing in the 2019 Ms. Senior Golden Years USA Pageant took to the stage before hundreds of avid attendees inside the Saddle West Showroom.

Pahrump Animal Shelter services contract decision set for Tuesday

The current contract for operation of the Pahrump Animal Shelter is almost at an end and the Nye County Commission must make the decision as to which organization the new contract will be awarded to.

Pahrump Valley Times refreshes its website

The website of the Pahrump Valley Times — pvtimes.com — features a refreshed look unveiled this week.

California Lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Wednesday, June 12 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $53 million.

Flag Day ceremony in Pahrump honoring veterans

Nathan Adelson Hospice announced it will be holding a special “We Honor Veterans” pinning ceremony today, June 14 in Pahrump to coincide with Flag Day.