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January 26, 2015

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County backs proposed solar energy farm near Laughlin

Construction could begin this year or early 2012


Justin Bowen

Laughlin and Bullhead City, Ariz., as seen in 2011.

Clark County will begin negotiations with a Chinese company that wants to bring a massive solar energy farm and a factory to manufacture solar panels to Laughlin.

Voting unanimously, commissioners expressed strong support for the development that many say could be the start of diversifying a state economy that historically has relied almost exclusively on tourism.

“I want these negotiations to go as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Steve Sisolak, whose district includes Laughlin. The county will begin getting appraisals for 5,400 acres slated for development and return relatively quickly with estimates.

The land targeted by ENN Mojave Energy Corp. is about 90 miles south of Las Vegas, near the southern point of the state in a place that would make it relatively easy to connect to power transmission lines in California, which ENN hopes to target.

When completed, the factory and an area for an industrial park would sit on 300 to 400 acres about 12 miles south of Laughlin, east of Needles Highway and west of the Colorado River. The factory would create about 2,000 skilled manufacturing jobs, according to county documents.

The average annual pay for such jobs was $72,000 in 2007, according to the company. However, it wants to build more than the factory. Sisolak said that after the factory is complete, workers will spend the next two to three years building solar panels for a massive solar plant on 5,100 acres on the west side of Needles Highway.

The total cost is estimated at $4 billion to $6 billion.

Construction of the 500,000- to 1 million-square-foot factory could begin this year or in early 2012. Manufacture of solar panels would begin in March 2013. The plant would produce from 2.7 million to 5.4 million solar panels a year.

The first phase of the solar farm would begin operating in March 2014, the second phase in March 2015 and the third in March 2016. A fourth phase is also possible, according to company documents.

Sisolak met with company officials a few weeks ago when the parent company, ENN Group, was described as the largest energy company in China. Company documents say it employs more than 25,000 worldwide in more than 100 subsidiaries. In 2010, it had revenue of $3.7 billion and assets of $6.1 billion.

ENN chose Laughlin after surveying the Southwest and finding few other states with large swaths of land available for development, Sisolak said. The company wants to sell the energy generated by the project to California power companies.

Sisolak said the selection of Nevada was aided by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s April trip to China, where he met ENN officials. Reid’s involvement will also be crucial for obtaining a federal waiver needed for the development to happen — the 5,400 acres under scrutiny are part of 9,000 acres conveyed to Clark County by the Colorado River Commission in 2007. County documents say the 5,400 acres are encumbered by a patent restriction that limits development “which must be waived or modified by the federal government to allow the proposed (solar) development.”

The 5,400 acres at issue are near the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation. Although most of the 42,000-acre reservation is in Arizona, it spans the Colorado River, and 5,500 acres of it cover the southern tip of Clark County.

A real estate agent in Laughlin said land in the area considered for the solar array and factory sells for about $10,000 an acre. If Clark County got that price, it would reap $54 million.

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  1. This is a start to add more jobs and different industries to So. Nevada. Glad to see interest in using this sunny desert for what it is.

    This will provide some decent paying jobs and there will be some construction work for a couple of years.

    No real downside. The county selling off land they don't need and are not bringing income with.

    Lets of upsides to this project in the long run.

  2. Why does it need to be a Chinese company? That is my only issue with this. Isn't it bad enough that almost everything we buy comes from them? Now we are going to be getting paychecks as well?

    Didn't we just celebrate breaking from colonial rule yesterday?

  3. The Jobs went to China because Americans wanted cheaper products. The companies in China have the money to build here and pay wages that Americans will work for. That is why it is a company from China. It will be nice that Americans are getting money from China instead of paying money to China.

    StevenCN. Does not matter if the power did come to Vegas they would not be competition for Nevada Energy. This company will not selling to the consumer, they are going to sell to power companies.

  4. The Electric power just like oil will always go to the highest bidder, That's why more oil being drilled here will not lower the cost. Most of the oil flowing from the Alaska pipe line is going to china, The highest bidder. Now you have to think about why? Is it that china can pay higher cost for energy than the American counterpart and buy the same materials as anyone else but they still sell cheaper than us. Labor cost at the assemble line is not the whole cost could it be Management labor cost or the greed factor of wanting to make 300 to 400% return or does it just boil down to volume.
    I don't know if ENN Mojave Energy Corp. is a public traded company. But we don't know who the stock holders of Ford are they could be Chinese, You can't say they are a Chinese company or a American company if it's a publicly traded.

  5. Solar panels are 30 percent efficient. If we are lucky maybe 35%, and this is a 'acceptable' standard.

    If I was '35%' efficient at my job, I would not HAVE a JOB.
    We live in a country where people laud 35% efficiency.

    No wonder China owns all of our money


  6. By the end of the second week in Ronald Reagan's term as President, nearly 90% of the solar research funding was canceled. Ronnie wanted us on oil. He also tore out all of the demonstration solar cells at the White House as a personal gesture of his contempt for renewable energy, like both Bushes.

    The Chinese bought the remaining solar technology developed in America, continued to perfect it and invested in renewable energy, such as massive cassava fields for biofuels (ethanol). The Republican Presidents (& Duke Cheney) went for foreign oil instead, because it was cheaper.

    The Chinese now have the best solar technology in the world, and their proliferating high speed rail lines are an example of amazing technology. China invests in it's education, engineers and people. America invests in tax breaks for the super wealthy and closes schools to save money.

    Most coal fired power plants are only about 33% efficient at their output too, and look at the fly ash piles...

    Any other questions?

  7. I own a 3 story cabin in the mountains of southern Utah, I built it 22 yrs. ago, and along with it I installed solar power in my cabin, and I must say that it is an excellant way to save money. I have paid no power bills in all those years and it is still working beautifully after all these years. If it was up to me I would suggest placing one in every individual home!!

  8. Nevada needs diversification in the worst way.

    Let the solar, wind, geothermal, and trash to energy power generation plants and industries fill Nevada! There is plenty of room to do this, and we have the workforce, some may need retooling/reeducation, but that is fine, as it also supports education.

    This is a fine start, keep it coming, but also do it in a responsible way.

  9. Good news...but half the people they hire will be from Arizona. Or even from California.