BLM Backs 200-MW Solar Project in Northern Nevada

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Aug. 28 announced its Sierra Front Field Office in the Carson City District in Nevada approved the use of BLM land that will serve the proposed Dodge Flat Solar Energy Center (DFSEC), a 200-MW alternating current photovoltaic (PV) solar energy project near Wadsworth, Nevada, in Washoe County, east of Reno. Dodge Flat Solar, part of NextEra Energy Resources, is developing the project, which has a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Las Vegas-based NV Energy.

Dodge Flat Solar is one of six solar power generation projects that are part of NV Energy’s latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which was approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) in December 2018. NV Energy’s IRP calls for the addition of more than 1 GW of renewable power generation to the utility’s portfolio, including NV Energy’s first use of battery storage, with 100 MW of capacity, including 50 MW available for a four-hour period at Dodge Flat. The IRP also called for accelerating the retirement of one of the state’s last remaining coal-fired generation units.

Three of the solar projects are sited in northern Nevada, with three in southern Nevada. Each project, including Dodge Flat, is expected to be online by year-end 2021.

1,600 Acres of Private Land

The Dodge Flat Solar Energy Center will be built on more than 1,600 acres of private land, but needed BLM approval to build access roads—and bury utility lines—across two parcels of BLM-administered land. The BLM, in its environmental assessment, also signed off on the Dodge Flat project’s use of existing improved roads, parts of which cross public lands, as secondary access to the solar farm.

The five other new solar projects with which NV Energy has PPAs include the Battle Mountain Solar Project, a 101-MW solar PV farm located near Battle Mountain, Nevada, which includes 25 MW of battery energy storage for a four-hour period. It is being developed by Cypress Creek Renewables.

The Fish Springs Ranch Solar Energy Center is a 100-MW project located north of Reno, and is also being developed by NextEra. The Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm, a 300-MW project, is being developed by 8minute Solar Energy. It is sited north of Las Vegas on land owned by the Moapa Band of Paiutes. 8minute Solar Energy is considered the largest privately-held solar and storage developer in the U.S., with about 10.7 GW of solar and storage under development in California, the Southwest, Texas, and the Southeast.

Copper Mountain Solar 5 is a 250-MW project in Eldorado Valley, south of Boulder City. CED Southwest Holdings, a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, is the developer. Techren Solar V is a 50-MW project, also being developed in Eldorado Valley. The project, being developed by Techren Solar LLC, will be adjacent to Techren Solar I, II, III. and IV facilities, all currently under construction. The addition of Techren Solar V will bring the total Techren project’s generation capacity to 400 MW.

Economic Benefits

Doug Cannon, president of NV Energy, when the utility’s more-recent IRP was announced, said, “Earlier this year we made a promise to our customers that we would double our renewable energy by 2023 and today’s decision puts us closer to reaching that goal, as well as to our long-term commitment to serve them with 100 percent renewable energy. These six new projects, which represent the largest renewable energy investment in Nevada’s history, will also bring great economic benefits to our state.”

NV Energy has said the projects represent a direct investment of more than $2 billion to Nevada’s economy.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).