WASHINGTON– The U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt on Monday signed off a plan to construct a 690-MW photovoltaic solar electric generating facility and ancillary facilities about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The estimated $1 billion Gemini Solar Project, spearheaded by Solar Partners XI, LLC, could be the eighth-largest solar power facility in the world when finished and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 260,000 homes in the Las Vegas area and potential energy markets in Southern California.
Interior officials said approval of the project aligns with the Trump Administration’s goal of rebuilding the economy and getting Americans back to work.
The Project is anticipated to not only enhance energy infrastructure and create jobs, but also help to meet Federal and state energy goals.
Significant Economic Impact
The on-site construction workforce is anticipated to average 500 to 700 construction workers, with a peak of up to 900 workers at any given time, supporting up to an additional 1,100 jobs in the local community and injecting an estimated $712.5 million into the economy in wages and total output during construction.
The first phase of the two-phase project is expected to come on-line in 2021, with final completion as early as 2022. Federal revenues are expected to be more than $3 million annually to the U.S. Treasury.
Environmental Benefits and Impact Mitigation
The Project is expected to generate renewable electricity that would annually offset greenhouse emissions of about 83,000 cars (384,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent). The hybrid alternative specified in the plan also includes a mowing method that will result in fewer impacts on native vegetation and wildlife, such as the desert tortoise. Extensive long-term monitoring will be required, in addition to possible adaptation of methods used to reduce potential impacts to desert tortoise.
Substantial Public Comment and Tribal Consultation
Prior to the project’s approval the BLM conducted two public meetings during a 45-day public scoping period and two additional public meetings during the 90-day public comment period after the Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were released. The BLM also conducted government-to-government consultations over several months, traveling to and meeting with numerous tribal organizations in the region.
More information about the project can be found here.