Las Vegas Sun

August 22, 2019

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$1 billion solar farm near Apex could feature battery storage

A nearly $1 billion, 690-megawatt solar project is being planned for 25 miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas.

The Gemini Solar Project will be constructed on 7,100 acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, according to Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, which will fund the project. The BLM still has to approve the project.

“A project of this scale will have a very positive impact on the state of Nevada and Las Vegas in particular, and we are grateful for the assistance and cooperation received from the Bureau of Land Management to date,” said Jeff Hunter, senior managing director of Quinbrook, in a statement. “Gemini is a uniquely positioned project in close proximity to both Las Vegas and export connections to California and Arizona.”

The project at full build will have the capability to power 260,000 households annually, according to the BLM.

The first 440-megawatt phase will connect to NV Energy’s Crystal Substation and generate renewable power for NV Energy’s grid. The second phase of 250 megawatts will connect at the South Crystal Substation and potentially serve power users in California, Nevada and Arizona.

Plans call for solar photovoltaics with options to include batteries, which would allow power delivery even when the sun has set. The price of the project could vary depending on the size of battery used.

The project will support 2,000 direct jobs at peak construction, with a permanent staff of seven operating the facility, according to the BLM. The expected economic development value to the Nevada economy is $463 million, according to Quinbrook.

A worksite agreement signed with IBEW Local Unions 396 and 357 will play a big role in the project’s goal of 75 percent of the workforce to come from union laborers.

Once up and running, the plant will be overseen by Arevia Power, a partner of Quinbrook.

“Arevia Power is excited to assist Quinbrook in developing one of the largest solar projects in the Western United States,” said Ricardo Graf, chief development officer and managing partner at Arevia Power, in a statement. “This flagship project is testament to our strong partnership … We look forward to Gemini making a significant contribution to Nevada’s renewable energy goals.”

The project will be located in near the Apex Industrial Park and south of the Moapa Reservation. The Moapa Band of Paiute Indians signed a letter of support in favor of the project, according to the BLM. Since the project plans to build on BLM land, the agency is seeking public comments on the proposal.

“The BLM strives to be a good neighbor in the communities we serve, and we look forward to receiving input from the public on this proposal,” said Tim Smith, BLM Southern Nevada district manager.

Written comments may be mailed to the BLM, Southern Nevada District, Energy & Infrastructure Project Manager, 4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV, 89130, or emailed to [email protected] or faxed to 702-515-5023 before Aug. 27.

The BLM is expected to deliver a record of decision by July 2019, with construction expected to begin in the third quarter of 2019.