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Company dumps big Laughlin solar project, says market won’t support it


Justin Bowen

Laughlin and Bullhead City, Ariz., as seen in 2011.

Updated Friday, June 14, 2013 | 5:55 p.m.

A Chinese-backed company is pulling the plug on a multibillion-dollar solar project near Laughlin after it was unable to find customers for the power that would have been generated there, a Clark County spokesman said Friday.

In a letter dated Friday, an executive from ENN Mojave Energy LLC informed the county that the company was terminating its agreement to purchase 9,000 acres near Laughlin, stating that the “market will not support a project of this scale and nature at this time.”

The company, a subsidiary of ENN Group, described as the largest energy company in China, said it was unable to sign the necessary power purchase agreements to sell the energy generated from the solar plant to utilities in Nevada or neighboring states.

When the plan was initially pitched to commissioners, developers said they planned to first build a solar panel factory followed by a massive solar energy plant on land 90 miles south of Las Vegas.

The project was broken down into phases, but if fully completed, it was expected to generate enough energy to power 200,000 homes with a price tag of $1 billion to $6 billion.

The move was hailed as a much-needed boost for economic development in the southern part of the state and was projected to create up to 2,200 permanent jobs.

Commissioners agreed to sell the land at $4.5 million — about a sixth of its appraised value — in December 2011 to jump-start the development, but they put in place an aggressive timeline that required ENN to secure the complicated power purchase agreements by the end of this month.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak said it was a pleasure working with ENN, but “when it all came down to the end, they just couldn’t sell the power.”

“Alternative energies are still more expensive than fossil fuels and they couldn’t get (the costs) down to a point where they could sell any of the power,” he said. “Even if we had given them an extension for a year or two, it wouldn’t have made a difference.”

With the solar project now just a mirage, commissioners will discuss what to do with the 9,000 acres of county-owned land at their July 2 meeting.

Sisolak said job creation and economic diversification are the two biggest criteria he’ll use when considering future proposals.

The large size of the parcel should generate plenty of interest, said Sisolak, who envisions solar, industrial and manufacturing uses all fitting well there.

“There’s not many places you can assemble that big of a property,” he said, adding that he’s open to selling all 9,000 acres to a single buyer or breaking them down into smaller parcels.

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  1. Genius! We were going to sell a foreign company land for 1/6th of the current value, so they could produce power costing 10 times as much as the coal plant we are shutting down.

  2. I won't comment on how much the land was going to be sold for but Greg's figure for cost of solar is far too high and coal costs don't include externalities. Until the true cost of burning fossil fuels can be calculated none should be burned.

  3. Methinks Lamy is on something. Anyhow, this should tell us a thing or two about "green energy. The only thing "green" about it is the extra money it costs all of us when pencil-pushing, politically correct bureaucratic drones waste our money on it. Most of the money goes to cronies, relatives and contributors as payback and we all pay through the nose for this cozy arrangement. There will be a day when "green" energy is economically feasible. It's just that that day is not today nor is it tomorrow.

  4. One door closes, another will open along the way. Much rather it be 100% American built, staffed, and supplied by American manufacturers. That is where the jobs are at, and sustaining our economy indefinitely. So ENN, the Chinese, really did us a favor. Thanks!

    Blessings and Peace,

  5. I am having a 4.75 KW system installed on my house as we speak. With the Federal Tax Credit of 30% of the system cost, plus the Production Energy Credits that I can sell to the Utilities, that with my energy bill savings my payback on the cost of the system is in 5 to 6 years with current inflation factors. With a 30 year life expectancy on the system, it will save another $35k easily over the next 25 years. I stay on the grid, I get my lights at night, my A/C stays on and at 78 degrees when I want it during the day and at 76 at night.

    A distributed model is where I feel solar is best suited. If every home has some panels installed, Nevada Energy could reduce the need for peak power generation as we would be producing that peak power for them. It could be a game changer. And I have never considered my self a "tree hugger", just someone who tries to keep an open mind about how to be energy efficient. That is also why I drive a Hybrid. I like that 37 MPG and filling up once a month. And it is still a Lincoln.

  6. Maybe next election cycle we could elect a Senator that would work hard for Nevada. Become the most powerful Senator in Washington and have his lips surgically attached to Obama's backside. That way He would use his power and influence to get some of that Obama-Friends pork money to come help save this project in Nevada. The state He says he represents... ...