Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 | 8:53 a.m.
Switch plans to build the single largest solar project portfolio in the country in Nevada, the technology infrastructure company based out of Las Vegas announced today.
In a partnership with Capital Dynamics, the second-largest owner of solar projects in the U.S., the Gigawatt 1 solar project will be built in Southern and Northern Nevada.
The project will generate some of the lowest-priced solar power in the world and produce enough clean energy to power almost 1 million homes.
The project is part of Switch owner and Chief Executive Officer Rob Roy’s Gigawatt Nevada plan that he introduced in 2015. Among Switch’s goals, the company wants to power its data centers with 100 percent renewable energy.
“The foundation of Gigawatt Nevada is that Nevada should harness the sun the same way Alaska harnesses its oil to significantly benefit all Nevadans,” Roy said. “Nevada enjoys the best solar window in the nation and so we Nevadans should not only be using solar for ourselves, but exporting it throughout the western U.S. to create new jobs, tax revenue, economic diversification, and raise energy independence.”
Gigawatt 1 anchor tenants will include Switch and several Switch CORE clients that partner with Switch for their data center and telecommunication needs.
Some Switch clients include Amazon Web Services, eBay, Marvel, MGM and recently announced Hulu, which is moving its data center to a 100 percent renewable energy facility in Las Vegas.
Aside from current clients, several private and public-sector access customers in and outside the state are in negotiations to join the project.
“This is the kind of opportunity that only very rarely presents itself,” said Benoit Allehaut, director at Capital Dynamics, which will own and develop assets tied to Gigawatt 1.
“After hearing Rob Roy’s vision to build gigawatts of solar in Nevada, this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass. We see a natural partnership to transform not just Nevada but the entire western electric grid. Switch is the leader in cooperative purchasing of telecom capacity and can take a similar leadership role in purchasing and distributing green energy.”
The project, slated to create 1,250 construction jobs, will be built with American-made solar panels and will utilize local Nevada labor.
Switch and Capital Dynamics will negotiate with their engineering, procurement and construction contractors and with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 357 and Laborers Union Local 872 on contract terms to construct Gigawatt 1.
The announcement is on the heels of Switch Stations 1 and 2 going live at the Apex Industrial Park north of Las Vegas in December. The combined plants generate 179 megawatts from the 1.98 million solar panels over the 1,979-acre project.
Greenpeace, which awarded Switch all A grades in its Clicking Clean Report, praised the company for its clean energy initiatives.
“Gigawatt 1 shows that when Switch and other leading companies don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, they can work together and kick open the door to large scale sources of renewable energy that are better for the planet and better for the economy in Nevada,” said Gary Cook, wenior IT sector analyst and energy campaigner at Greenpeace.