- By Chez Oxendine
CLARK COUNTY, Nev. — A proposal to add two new facilities to the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians’ growing portfolio of solar energy projects has come one step closer to approval.
The tribe’s latest solar initiative, the Southern Bighorn Solar Project, is a cooperative proposal between the BIA, the Moapa Band, and Los Angeles-based 8minute Solar Energy subsidiaries 300MS 8me LLC and 425LM 8me LLC.
The project aims to lease up to 3,600 acres of tribal trust land for two solar electricity generation and energy storage facilities on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Clark County, Nevada. The two facilities would generate a combined 400 megawatts of power.
These two facilities represent the fifth and sixth solar project proposals to come from the Moapa Band in the past decade. Of the four other proposed projects, the 350 MW K-Road Moapa Solar Facility is already in operation adjacent to the Southern Bighorn Solar Project’s proposed land leases. Another project, called the Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Project, also located in Clark County, Nevada, remains under construction.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposal Thursday, clearing the way for final decisions from federal agencies.
The impact statement’s appraisal of potential environmental changes include potential disturbances of local plant life, migratory birds and desert wildlife during construction. The statement concludes that many such effects would be minor and temporary.
The latest regulatory step paves the way for the BIA and Bureau of Land Management to make determinations on the proposed land lease and necessary right-of-way applications, and makes data available to the Environmental Protection Agency for its evaluation of the project.
If constructed, the Southern Bighorn Solar Project would provide long-term revenue and jobs for the Moapa Band, according to a statement from BIA.
Construction for both new projects is expected to take more than a year.
“The Moapa Band of Paiutes’ Southern Bighorn Solar Project has the potential to bring sustainable energy and jobs to their people,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said in a statement. “Renewable energy can be an important part of a Tribal economy that can raise the quality of life in Tribal communities while adding to the Nation’s clean energy supply.”
The full final environmental impact statement has been published in the Federal Register for public comment. Per the BIA, written comments are due within 30 days after the notice was published in the Federal Register.
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