First Solar building 250MW Moapa

First Solar has kicked off construction at a 250MW(AC) PV array in Nevada on land owned by the Moapa River Indian Reservation, with full commercial operation slated for late 2015.

First Solar acquired the Moapa Southern Paiute project – the first utility-scale PV array to be built on tribal land in the US – from the Barclays Capital-backed developer K Road last autumn.

The project “will help create a model for other Tribes to follow”, says Moapa Paiute Tribal Council chairwoman Aletha Tom.

“There are endless opportunities in renewable energy, and Tribes across the nation have the available land on which to build them.”

The project has a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). It will generate an estimated 2.3% of LADWP’s electricity needs – a significant contribution to its 33% renewables target for 2020.

In addition to supplying and installing modules, First Solar will oversee the construction of an onsite substation and a new 5.5-mile (8.8km) 500kV transmission line that will connect it to a second, already-existing substation.

The Moapa Southern Paiute project, along with another nearby solar array, will allow LADWP to stop taking coal-fired electricity from the 2.25GW Navajo plant, located on Navajo tribal land in Arizona.