Manufacturer and utility solar project developer, First Solar and the Native American Moapa Paiute Tribe have started the construction of a 250MW solar power plant.

The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar project is to be built by Moapa Southern Paiute Solar, a subsidiary of First Solar Electric. The project will be installed with First Solar’s thin film modules.  

The plant is scheduled for completion in 2015, powering 93,000 homes and creating 400 construction jobs.

The Moapa River Indian Reservation consists of 29,137 hectares and belongs to the the Moapa Band of Paiutes, part f the Southern Paiute Nation, which is trying to preserve its homeland while creating new economic opportunities.

The Moapa solar plant is to be constructed on 809 hectares of the Moapa River Indian Reservation.

Aletha Tom, chairwoman of the Moapa Paiute Tribal Council said: “If our small Tribe can accomplish this, then others can also. There are endless opportunities in renewable energy, and Tribes across the nation have the available land on which to build them.

“This is an important step in becoming a leader in Indian Country and will help to create a model for other Tribes to follow,” said Tom.

Municipal utility, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has agreed a power purchase agreement (PPA) to buy power from the plant for 25 years, to supply electricity to the city of Los Angeles.

The Moapa solar plant will assist LADWP to meet its target of distributing 33% renewable energy supply and its goal to eliminate coal from its energy resources, and reduce energy use by 10% through energy efficiency measures. The Moapa solar plant will account for 2.4% of LADWP’s renewables portfolio.

By the end of 2015 LADWP hopes to completely stop sourcing coal from the Navajo Plant, replacing it with clean solar energy from Moapa and another utility-scale solar plant. The two PV plants will make up 4% of LADWP’s overall goal of 33% renewables by 2020.

“The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project is a significant step toward the LADWP's effort to achieve a major transformation of the city's power supply – one that has greater reliance on renewable energy resources and zero coal power,” said Marcie Edwards, general manager, LADWP .

LADWP is mandated by California State law to stop all coal use by 2020.

US Senate for Nevada, Harry Reid who was present with government and industry leaders, Moapa Tribe and First Solar representatives to celebrate the Moapa plant’s start of construction said: “The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar project is the first utility-scale solar project on tribal land and will deliver much needed economic benefits to the Tribe and Nevada.”