Company announces plan for 2nd solar plant at Nellis AFB

A Silicon Valley solar-panel maker is teaming with NV Energy to build another solar plant at Nellis Air Force Base, helping Nevada’s main electric utility move away from coal-fired power.

SunPower Corp. said today that Las Vegas-based NV Energy picked it to build a 19-megawatt solar photovoltaic power system at the northeast valley military base.

It is slated to be built next year, pending contract approval by Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission, SunPower said.

NV Energy will own the facility, and the company plans to spend up to $54.5 million to develop it, spokeswoman Jennifer Schuricht said.

The power generated will primarily flow to Nellis, but it also will be available to other customers, Schuricht said.

This won’t be SunPower’s first foray into Southern Nevada. The San Jose, Calif., company, which boasts a stock-market value of almost $4.5 billion, built a 14-megawatt solar plant at Nellis in 2007.

The latest project comes as NV Energy moves ahead with plans to close, in phases, its coal-fueled Reid Gardner Generating Station near Moapa, northeast of Las Vegas, and replace the 800 megawatts of power it generated with cleaner sources of energy.

State Senate Bill 123, which Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law last June, requires NV Energy to close three coal-plant units at Reid Gardner by the end of this year and to shutter the fourth and final unit by the end of 2017.

NV Energy submitted plans last month to state regulators to develop 200 megawatts of solar energy on Moapa Paiutes’ land and 15 megawatts at Nellis, and to buy gas plants producing 496 megawatts in Southern Nevada.