U.S. Department of Energy

    Interior Department Flips Switch on First Public Lands Solar Project

    May 9, 2012

    Photo of a solar panels in the desert.

    Officials flipped the switch to start Silver State North, a 50-megawatt solar plant located 40 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada.
    Credit: Enbridge

    U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on May 7 flipped the switch to start the first large-scale solar energy facility on U.S. public lands delivering power to consumers. Silver State North is a 50-megawatt plant located 40 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada, that will use photovoltaic (PV) technology to generate enough power for about 9,000 Nevada homes. The plant was built on 618 acres of public land managed by Interior's Bureau of Land Management, after the solar facility underwent full environmental analysis and public review. It was developed by First Solar and is owned by Enbridge.

    Prior to 2009, there were no solar energy projects permitted on public lands. Since then, the Interior Department has authorized 29 large-scale renewable energy projects on or involving public lands, including 16 solar facilities, 5 wind farms, and 8 geothermal plants. See the Interior Department press release.