Federal officials have just approved the first large-scale solar plant on tribal land, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Thursday.
Construction for the 350-megawatt solar farm in Nevada, situated on the reservation of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians in Clark County, will begin later this year.
K Road Moapa Solar LLC leads the project, which will consume some 2,000 acres. It will power nearly 100,000 homes and the Moapa Travel Plaza, from which the tribe obtains the majority of its income.
The company plans to develop the project in three phases of 100-150 megawatts each.
Salazar said in a statement:
“We know there is great potential for tribes when it comes to renewable energy, to generate investment, new jobs and new sources of revenues. We do not want Indian country to be left behind as we move forward with the new-energy frontier.”
This effort represents a further push by the Interior Department to develop clean energy generation plants on public land, but it is also a new step forward for the Obama administration in that it reaches out to Indian territory.
Acting assistant secretary of Indian affairs, Donald “Del” Laverdure, said, “Indian country has a wealth of resources,” and added that this development will make sure that “tribal governments can also participate in the American dream,” the Washington Post reports.
The project will create at least 400 jobs at its peak, with around 20 jobs becoming permanent.