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August 19, 2017

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Solar industry ‘booming’ as area’s latest project is dedicated near Boulder City

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Steve Marcus

Pat Egan, senior vice president of renewable energy and smart infrastructure at NV Energy, speaks during a dedication ceremony for the SunPower Boulder Solar 1 Facility in Boulder City Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The 100-megawatt solar power facility consists of 288,000 photovoltaic panels on 542 acres.

SunPower Boulder Solar 1

Executives and politicians pose during a dedication ceremony for the SunPower Boulder Solar 1 Facility in Boulder City Tuesday, April 18, 2017. From left: Bob Schaffeld, senior vice president and chief commercial officer for Southern Power, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev), Boulder City Mayor Rod Woodbury, Norm Taffe, senior vice president of Products for SunPower, and Pat Egan, senior vice president of renewable energy and smart infrastructure at NV Energy. Launch slideshow »

On a typical bright and sunny day in the desert, conditions perfect for solar energy generation, dignitaries and executives gathered to celebrate the area’s latest solar project, Boulder Solar l.

Constructed on 542 acres off U.S. 95 on the outskirts of Boulder City, the 100 megawatt (MW) facility features 288,000 tracker-mounted panels. Guided by GPS, the panels shift with the sun’s movement.

The tracker-mounted system operates 15 percent more effectively than a traditional solar plant, according to Andrew deRussy, an engineer for Southern Power.

Southern Power and SunPower Corp. partnered on the project.

SunPower developed, designed and constructed the site and also implements onsite operations and maintenance. The site can generate enough energy to power 30,000 Southern Nevada homes during peak sun hours.

Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, co-owns two additional solar facilities in Clark County, the 20-MW Apex Solar facility and the 30-MW Spectrum Solar facility near Nellis Air Force Base.

NV Energy purchases power and associated portfolio credits generated by the facility, operating under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

“It’s exciting. It’s a perfect example of when you have a public-private partnership that invests in clean, affordable, renewable technology,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., at the event Tuesday. “Nevada is primed to lead the country not only in solar but geothermal and wind. It’s exciting to be able to go down a path of renewable energy in a clean economy.”

With other solar projects in the area, Boulder City Mayor Rod Woodbury said he is proud of the town’s continued growth in the solar sector.

“The solar industry is just booming in Boulder City,” Woodbury said. “It's been fantastic for us. We’ve got around 1,100-plus megawatts of power from the solar energy fields down here. It’s something to the tune of about 5,000 acres.”

Not only does the solar plant generate clean energy, it also creates jobs, Woodbury noted.

“NV Energy is involved. That means that power gets to stay right here in Nevada and get distributed through one of our local companies,” he said. “It also creates more jobs for Nevada, so we’re very thankful for that.”

Providing affordable energy, using natural resources and positively affected climate change are the benefits of the solar plant and facilities like it, Cortez Masto said.

The Nevada Legislature is considering several bills pertaining to clean energy, indicating the importance of the issue, Cortez Masto said.

“To the extent that our Nevada Legislature, our governor, our elected leaders are all united with the thought that we should be … promoting a renewable and green energy economy in this state is something that will benefit all of us,” Cortez Masto said. “We are all united, I know we are, we’ve been talking about this and the potential to look even further.”

Cortez Masto, who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said she’ll use that position to advance Nevada’s renewable energy causes.

“That gives me the ability to promote what we’re doing here in Nevada and then continue to fight for incentives for companies to do just what you see here,” she said. “I will continue to fight for dollars for research.”

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