LAUGHLIN — The township of Laughlin could see solar sooner than expected.
The prospect of a solar facility in Laughlin began in 2015 when NextEra Energy Resources outbid First Solar, Inc. for the development of two parcels of land in a region just south of Laughlin know as the Southlands.
NextEra had three years to determine whether construction of a solar plant was viable or not. If so, it had another option to lease the land from Clark County for another 20 years. NextEra did not build nor renew the lease, and the land went back under county control.
However, getting the land back out for appraisal and released has been a challenge.
“Project bidding was held up by potential unexploded ordnance that was sent within the area,” said Bob Bilbray, the Laughlin Economic Development Corporation strategic developer advisor. “LEDC submitted a request to the county Department of Real Property Management that this is not a reason to hold up the solar lease bidding.
Clark County Director of Public Communications Erick Papa said they did additional research and the county no longer believes there is any unexploded munitions on the 9,000 acres
This is good news for solar companies like 8minute Solar Energy, which has an interest in the area.
Senior Director of Development Jason Moretz, from 8minute, spoke to the Laughlin Town Advisory Board earlier this year.
During that meeting, he gave a brief overview of the Arida Solar Project.
The solar field would take approximately 4,200 acres of the Southlands for development.
Moretz said 8minute was hoping that the land would go to auction either in late March or early April. It’s now July, and the wait is costing money.
The land was last appraised at just over $36 million before NextEra moved in.
“As I recall, monthly lease payments were about $130,000 a month,” Bilbray said. “So, this delay has probably cost the Fort Mohave Development Area at least $1.25 million.”
That money goes into the Fort Mohave Development Fund, which helps community growth. This fund in the past has been used for or assisted Laughlin’s sanitation system, flood control and the community swimming pool.
“I am happy to tell you, I met with the assistant county manager (Randall Tarr) and he said no longer is the unexploded ordnance a concern on any part of the 9,000 acres,” Bilbray said. “We were told the county would go out and reappraise it and have it out to bid by the end of the year.”