Arizona, Nevada to host large solar projects

December 21, 2011

The federal government has approved two large renewable energy projects near Phoenix and San Diego. And in Nevada, Clark County announced a land deal with a Chinese company to build a massive solar project. From Phoenix, Peter O’Dowd reports on this week’s renewable boom. 

 PETER O’DOWD: Clark County will sell 9,000 acres near the Arizona border to China-based ENN. The company will pay four-and a half-million dollars for the land. That’s far below the appraised value. But Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak says the deal will pay off. ENN must create 500 permanent jobs and invest a billion dollars by 2018, or else the land goes back to the county.

 STEVE SISOLAK: There’s a timeline they have to meet. There’s an investment line they have to meet. There’s a job creation line they have to meet. We’re going to put thousands of people to work.

 PETER O’DOWD: The project calls for utility-scale power generation, and a research facility. Richard Bryan is an attorney working on behalf of ENN. He spoke before the Clark County Commission.

 RICHARD BRYAN: Although many solar projects have been before you with great merit, this one is significant because we are talking about a manufacturing facility.

 PETER O’DOWD: Chinese competition has put pressure on domestic solar companies to lower prices. And it’s been a tumultuous year after the collapse of American firms like California-based Solyndra. Still, local and federal governments continue to push large-scale renewable projects. On Tuesday the Bureau of Land Management approved the first solar project on federal land in Arizona. It could power 90,000 homes. The BLM also gave the green light to a 62-turbine wind project east of San Diego.