First-Ever Solar Project On Public Lands Begins Delivering Power


Written by Jessica Goad

Yesterday the Silver State North Solar Project on the California border near Primm, Nevada began generating electricity. It is the first-ever solar project sited on public lands to be completed and produce power.

The 50-megawatt project, which was developed by First Solar and owned by Enbridge, will power approximately 9,000 homes. It employed 380 workers at peak construction, just a portion of Nevada’s 17,254 jobs in green goods and services.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar described the significance of the project in a dedication ceremony:

… a landmark for America, a landmark for the solar industry and a landmark for how we use public lands.

The Silver State project is also notable because the company worked with stakeholders to avoid places unfit for industrial energy development. It is close to existing transmission lines and the size of the project’s footprint was reduced in order to minimize impacts on wildlife and the landscape. As the Nevada Wilderness Project wrote on its blog:

In the case of Silver State North, we dubbed this 600-acre project 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas “smart” because the developer was willing to gather environmental input early on to avoid complications during the formal review process. From where we sat at the review table, that was a good sign.

Currently there are a handful of wind and geothermal project sited on public lands that are operational. But until today, there were no solar energy projects producing power. The Interior Department has permitted 15 other solar energy projects that are in various states of construction, financing and permitting.

The Obama administration has permitted more renewable energy projects on public lands than all other administrations combined.  It is also in the process of finalizing a landmark set of guidelines that guide solar energy development into specially-designated zones, a new and improved model for energy development on public lands.

This post was originally published by Climate Progress.


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Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you ClimateProgress, for Sharing this!

Val D.
Val D.2 years ago

This is great news!

Ruth R.
Ruth R.2 years ago

I would rather have solar energy on roof tops and in yards!
However this solar energy on public lands was and is -- at present -- one of the only ways to get the 30 to70 year delayed solar energy field going !
Thank You for the article.

aj E.
aj E.3 years ago


Justine G.
Justine G.3 years ago

For an example of the public lands boondoggling: go to the LA Times website then search on "cart mojave" (not in quotes); the first article should be the 4/6/12 article "Environmentalists feeling burned by rush to build solar."
The site solardoneright dot org has more info/resources that show small-scale solar and other improvements can do more and cost taxpayers less. The goal is not to guarantee profits for Big Energy!

Justine G.
Justine G.3 years ago

What America needs is Solar Done Right! Small scale solar projects located where people actually use the energy would benefit us much more than these desert boondoggles. It costs more to build these large-scale projects and transport the energy where it's needed, and these projects seriously deplete the ground water in areas that cannot afford to lose more water. Bye bye wildlife. In some cases the BLM is clearing wild horses & burros off their protected land claiming drought because only after the equines are gone can they give it away to these misguided ventures. We need to push small-scale solar past the energy companies who are fighting it instead of helping to develop it. We don't need to ruin the desert landscape by putting infrastructure where it's not needed - that's how suburban sprawl starts. And Solar Trust just filed for bankruptcy last month...

Ruth R.
Ruth R.3 years ago

A good begiining! May there be much more solar energy on the earth where it is useful, and does not hurt the earth and all that live on the earth.

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Great news ... thank you for sharing.

patricia m lasek
patricia lasek3 years ago


Arild Warud
Arild Warud3 years ago

Good news.