PAHRUMP, Nev. – Valley Electric Association, Inc. (VEA), a nonprofit, member-owned electric cooperative, announced detailed information about the plan to begin construction this year on a 15-megawatt solar energy generation project in Pahrump, Nevada. Utilizing Nevada union workers and American-made materials, this solar project will generate affordable renewable energy while creating new jobs and tax revenue within the Silver State.
The solar project is expected to begin delivering energy on July 1, 2016. Bombard Renewable Energy, a division of Bombard Electric, LLC (Bombard), an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of MDU Resources Group, Inc. (MDU), a well-established, Nevada-based company, will handle engineering, procurement and construction for the project, which will include the installation of 54,000 photovoltaic panels across an 80-acre project site. The project will use American-made photovoltaic panels, inverters and steel throughout the solar field. The project will also include the construction of a 2,640-foot, 24.9-kilovolt distribution line.
This community-focused solar project will utilize union labor and provide an estimated 200 jobs throughout the construction process. In addition, VEA and Bombard are working closely alongside state and federal agencies to protect the Mojave Desert tortoises at the project site. This involves a number of unique design and construction elements, including the creation of a large temporary habitat for desert tortoises. VEA will also facilitate and fund in-depth research and monitoring studies in partnership with government agencies and regional researchers to evaluate the impact of solar panel configurations on local vegetation, the tortoise population and birds.
VEA’s fixed-rate power purchase agreement with Nevada Valley Solar Solutions I, LLC, another indirect subsidiary of MDU — which will operate the solar plant and sell the energy to VEA — provides the cooperative with one of the lowest-priced solar energy contracts in the nation.
“This is a solar project that truly stands alone,” said Thomas Husted, CEO of VEA. “At VEA, we value innovation and member service. Our status as a member-owned electric cooperative allows us to develop opportunities that promote local economic development while strengthening Nevada’s renewable energy industry. We are committed to positioning Nevada as a leader in the national renewable energy market, and we hope this innovative endeavor serves as a benchmark for future community solar projects across the country.”
Bo Balzar of Bombard echoed Husted’s sentiments. “Bombard has been involved in Nevada’s renewable energy industry since the beginning, and we are proud to be working with VEA. This project proves it is possible to develop renewable energy economically while at the same time safeguarding the environment.”
As a result of the project, VEA’s member-owners in southwestern Nevada will have the opportunity to participate in a new community solar program at no additional cost. The output of the project will be available for all VEA members at a lower price than their current electric rates. The program will allow VEA consumers to experience the benefits of renewable energy without significant investments or long-term leases. Additional details about the community solar program will be released in the coming months.
“We are developing this community solar program to meet the growing demand for alternatives to rooftop photovoltaic systems in our communities,” said Chris Brooks, VEA’s executive vice president of energy services. “We look forward to providing our member-owners with a new, cost-effective option that can immediately reduce their energy expenses.”
About Valley Electric Association, Inc.
Valley Electric Association, Inc. (VEA) is a member-owned nonprofit electric utility headquartered in Pahrump, Nevada. While VEA started as a small rural electric utility in 1965, the company now provides service to more than 45,000 people within a vast 6,800-square-mile service area located primarily along the California-Nevada border, with the majority in Nevada. VEA’s service area starts in Sandy Valley, southwest of Las Vegas, and extends north for more than 250 miles to Fish Lake Valley. For more information about VEA, please visit www.vea.coop.