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First utility-scale solar project on tribal land breaks ground in Nevada

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This spring, tribal leaders and community members broke ground on the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project. Located on the Moapa Indian Reservation, this 250 Megawatt (MW) solar project is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2015 and will provide energy to homes in the city of Los Angeles, California. Also on the reservation is an off-grid solar facility, which is used to supply all of the electricity needs of a travel plaza.

There are approsimately 56.2 million acres of land spread across the United States that are held in trust by the United States for Indian tribes and individuals. The largest of these land areas is the 16 million-acre Navajo National Reservation located in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The smallest is the 1.32 acre Pit River Tribe cemetary in California. Many of these areas, including the Navajo Reservation, are also located in prime areas for solar power generation. In the words of Moapa Chairwoman Aletha Tom, the Moapa Solar Project “is an important step in becoming a leader in Indian Country and will help to create a model for other tribes to follow...There are endless opportunities in renewable energy, and tribes across the nation have the available land on which to build them.”

Photo credit:

1. Photo of Tracey LeBeau (Director of the U.S> Department of Energy's Office of Indian Energy), with Moapa tribe Council member Vernon Lee (left), Moapa Chairwoman Aletha Tom (second from the right) and Kathy Weiss of First Solar (right) by Jum Laurie, U.S. Department of Energy.

2. Off-grid solar installation on the Moapa Reservation, which is used to power the tribe's travel plaza by Stronghold Engineering via the U.S. Department of Energy.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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