LAS VEGAS - One of the largest solar projects in the county - to be located in the Laughlin Southlands - was set to be reviewed by Clark County Commissioners July 5. Commissioners could approve using more than half of the 9,000 acres for a manufacturing plant the size of four Wal-Marts with photovoltaic panels to generate electricity that might come close to the capacity of the old Mohave Generating Station.

Attorney (and former Nevada governor and U.S. Senator) Richard H. Bryan wrote to Nancy Lipski, county Comprehensive Planning Department director, that the Las Vegas law firm of Lionel, Sawyer and Collins represents ENN Mojave Energy Corporation. His letter estimated 2,000 permanent manufacturing jobs after 4,000 construction jobs and that, “The total capital to be invested will be between $4-6 billion.”

His letter said, “the manufacturing facility will produce thin-film, photovoltaic solar panels and will include, at build-out, six advanced production lines in a clean room environment. (It) will produce as many as 5.4 million solar panels per year at full production. The solar generating facility will be adjacent to the manufacturing facility and will utilize the panels produced on-site. The generating facility will be built in two phases of 360 megawatts (720 MW in total) and the plans anticipate the possible expansion to a fourth phase.”

If the facility grows to that fourth phase and produces 1,440 megawatts it would be only some 140 megawatts less that the capacity of the coal-fired Mohave Generating Station that closed in 2005 and now is being dismantled.

Photovoltaics use very little water compared to generation in which sunlight heats water to turn turbines. PVs use sunlight to generate voltage by a reaction between two different materials.

ENN Mojave is reportedly seeking to acquire about 5,100 of the 9,000 acres of the county-owned Southlands from its north to south boundaries with the Needles Highway as the eastern edge for the photovoltaic panels. Another 400 acres would be needed for the manufacturing plant. It would front the other side of the highway from near the Colorado River to the southwest side of the existing 160-acre private parcel.

Solar project could be ‘huge'


LAUGHLIN - Location of any industry in the Tri-state could be big. Location of an industry that promises to employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people, then, would be huge. An announcement last week that ENN Mojave Energy Corp., a subsidiary of global giant ENN Group of China, has filed plans for a solar panel manufacturing plant and solar energy farm in Laughlin certainly falls into the “huge” category.

“It's huge for the region, for our state, for the nation,” said Janet Barela, executive director of the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Laughlin Town Advisory Board. “Two thousand jobs Š. It's staggering. The economic impact is huge.”

It's not a done deal - far from it, actually - but it could come closer to fruition Tuesday, when the Clark County Commission will consider entering negotiations with ENN Mojave Energy for land and a development plan for a facility that would be located in Laughlin's Southlands. The county is being asked to make a decision directing the possible sale and development of an estimated 5,400 acres of county-owned land. The directive is 46th on a typically lengthy agenda for Tuesday's county commission meeting.

“I am pushing this as fast and hard as I can push it,” County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, whose district includes Laughlin, told the Las Vegas Sun. “This represents a lot of jobs. And it's not just construction jobs. There are permanent jobs, which makes it especially attractive.”

Estimates include 4,000 jobs during construction and anywhere from 1,700 to 2,000 jobs once the manufacturing plant is operational. According to county documents, that could be as early as March 2013. The overall construction - of the factory and the solar farm - is expected to take up to four years. Documents indicate that generated power would be sold to California entities.

It would be Laughlin's second foray in power generation. The Mohave Generating Station, a joint-ownership venture, operated a coal-fired power plant before shutting down a decade ago. Proposals to convert - or find a buyer willing to do the conversion - from coal to another energy source such as natural gas or solar failed to materialize and the plant was decommissioned and is in the process of being dismantled.

According to Barela, ENN Group expressed an interest in Laughlin more than two years ago, beginning discussions with Clark County and NV Energy. Those discussions set the groundwork, and then a trip by a delegation of United States senators to ENN Solar's headquarters in Langfang, China, in April accelerated the matter. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid was part of that delegation and, according to Sisolak, “Sen. Reid sent them to me and we went from there.”

“Because of the size and scope of the project, all communications between the county and ENN have ensued under the strictest confidence,” Barela wrote in an e-mail to members of the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. “It wasn't until the information about the company or project proposal were made public in the Board of County Commission meeting agenda item that the local community could be informed.”

The next step comes Tuesday. The county can, under Nevada Revised Statute 244.2815, adopt a resolution deeming the project to be “in the best interest of the public,” which would allow the sale or lease of county land for the purpose of economic development without offering it for bid to the general public. It also could allow the county to make that sales agreement for less than fair-market value - which could be as high as $45 million based on a price of $10,000 per acre.

Barela said there is at least one more hurdle for the proposal to clear - a covenant with the Bureau of Land Management over use of the land that was transferred from the BLM to Clark County.

“There's still a BLM covenant on the land,” Barela said, adding that the covenant was part of a “1966 land-use plan. At that time, solar (energy production) wasn't on anybody's chart.”

She said Reid and his staff are involved in trying to secure a federal waiver for that land-use covenant.

Sisolak said there is no question that the project would be in the public's interest - because it would provide both short-term and long-term jobs for an area that desperately needs them.

“We'll finally be manufacturing something in this state,” Sisolak told the Las Vegas Sun. “This is hopefully the start of diversifying our economy, a goal the state, the county, everyone has sought for years.”

Sen. Joe Hardy: ‘Laughlin's future bright'

By JIM MANIACI, Laughlin Nevada Times

LAUGHLIN - State Sen. Joseph Hardy, the Boulder City physician who championed a four-year campaign to try to let Laughlin residents vote on the incorporation question for the first time, said last week that the southern-most community in Nevada is just the latest example - and potentially the brightest - of history in the making.

Commenting on the upcoming July 12 ceremonial signing of his SB-262 by Gov. Brian Sandoval, the District 12 senator said, “The history of Nevada is relatively new and Laughlin is the newest of the new beginnings. Looking forward into the history of southern Nevada I could see this new city grow, develop and thrive with everything that's going on with renewable energy.”

Hardy was referring to the unveiling before the Clark County Commission in Las Vegas of a $4-$6 billion solar energy project that would cover about eight square miles of the Laughlin Southlands to generate electricity and a 1-million sq.-ft. factory to manufacture photovoltaic panels in a process that uses very little water compared to other methods of solar electric generation. He continued, “It's time to say ‘Laughlin is real.' And people across the state are paying attention to Laughlin.”

The senator, who began the campaign with AB-383 in the 2009 Legislature when he represented Assembly District 20, concluded, “I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to make the case and hope that the people of Laughlin get that opportunity to vote.”

The law the governor signed requires a state-produced financial study to confirm or reject the contention that a new city could support itself. That report would have to be approved by a separate state or county panel for the election to proceed.

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