U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that he has signed on a plan in collaboration with the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians to develop the 350 MW solar plant that will potentially power 100,000 homes. "We do not want Indian country to be left behind as we move forward with the new energy front in the United States," Salazar told the press.
Ground breaking will take place this autumn and the project is expected to create 400 jobs during the peak construction period. Fifteen to 20 of these jobs are believed to be permanent thereafter. The project was proposed by K Road Moapa Solar LLC and will be on 2,000 acres of the tribe’s reserve. The plant’s aim is to provide power to a truck stop, Moapa Travel Plaza, which is near the entrance of the Valley of Fire State Park which provides a significant amount of the tribe’s income.
This project marks the 31st utility-scale project approved on public lands since Obama came into power in 2009. Officials said the Interior Department is also working to revamp federal surface leasing regulations in an effort to streamline energy project development on tribal lands.