With sweeping expanses of luminous desert land, it turns out that I-80 is a sweet spot for solar power.
Humboldt County will be a whole lot brighter by 2024 by means of the Iron Point and Hot Pot Solar projects. NV Energy has commissioned Primergy Solar, out of Oakland, Calif., to build a solar facility spanning 2,700 acres, 30 miles east of Winnemucca, in Valmy, according to conditional use permits filed with the county by Primergy.
NV Energy’s website confirms that the solar facility will replace NV Energy’s last coal powered plant, the North Valmy Generation Station.
The Iron Point facility, which will be constructed first, will consist of a 250-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system with 200-megawatts of battery storage incorporated into the structure, according to NV ENergy’s website, and the Hot Pot Solar project will operate with 350-megawatts of solar PV and 280-megawatts of battery power storage. The facilities will have a combined capacity of 600-megawatts and 480-megawatts of battery storage capacity, which NV Energy says will be able to power 127,000 homes. The complete solar farm project will be among the largest in the nation.
With all members of the Humboldt County Board of Commissioners present, Harley MacDonald, a representative of Primergy Solar, presented an update of activity—primarily the submission of tax abatements— to the Commissioners via web-call at the meeting on April 18th. She said that the Iron Point building project stands to be completed in 18 months, by December 2023.
According to MacDonald, the project will cost 770 million dollars and generate 41 million dollars of property taxes within its projected 30 year life span.
“Everything is pretty much on track. We are getting the engineering procurement construction contractor on board and we are still hoping to start up construction some time this year,” said MacDonald.
Recently, Primergy has submitted agendas to the Public Utilities Commission (PCU) to construct an access road to the Iron Point Solar Project. According to PCU docket 22-04002, the road resides on .9 miles of Bureau of Land Management (BLM)- owned land and .9 miles of privately-owned land.
The BLM requires that Primergy do an environmental analysis of the project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) because the area between the private land sections is a designated sage grousse area. Also, because the facility will generate more than 70 watts of renewable energy as its primary source, Primergy must also comply with Nevada Utility Environmental Protection Act (UEPA) permit protocol, the PCU docket explains.The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) will likewise receive proper applications in concurrence with the other agencies, according to the PCU docket. If all fairs well within the scope of analysis’, Primergy will proceed with construction.
“The total amount of impact that we currently are proposing is less than a dozen acres. There are just small little corners, what we call butterfly crossings, in the corners of each section. We just need to get our access roads and transmission lines in between the private sections of land,” explained MacDonald.
MacDonald said, “Iron Point will go first. It is 250-megawatts and construction will start this fall. Then, Hot Pot will follow some time the following year and we’re hoping that Iron Point will be completed in Dec. of 2023.”
NV Energy reports that the projects will stimulate the local economy by fostering hundreds of construction jobs throughout development and several permanent positions once it is finished.
Humboldt County Economic Development Officer, Jan Morrision, confirmed that there will only be a few permanent positions—up to 16—, but they will be higher paying positions.
Commissioner Tom Hoss expressed concern about the solar projects after MacDonald’s presentation.
He said “This is going to be tremendously life-changing to the whole U.S.,” and advised that the board go over the plans thoroughly.
Ultimately, the board requested the unredacted versions of information from Primergy in order to really evaluate the parameters of the proposed projects.