Nevada Solar Factory Canceled

A project that would have included a solar power station and a million-square-foot solar panel factory a few miles from the California state line won’t be built, its backers announced last month. The $5 billion, Chinese-backed ENN Mojave Energy project at the southernmost corner of Nevada couldn’t find utilities that wanted to buy its power, either in Nevada or across the line in California.

Planned for about 9,000 acres of county-owned land on the Nevada side of the Colorado River above the gambling resort town of Laughlin, the ENN plant claimed in its initial promotional material that it would provide steady employment for between 500 and 2,000 people at its factory, with about the same number hired for short-term construction jobs. The plant would have cost between $4 and $6 billion, and was backed strongly by Nevada’s senior Senator Harry Reid.

But in order to close the deal on the county land, ENN Mojave Energy needed to nail down Power Purchase Agreements for the 740 megawatts of solar power it would have produced. In 2011 when the plant was proposed, the assumption was that ENN’s power would be snapped up by California utilities seeking to meet their obligations under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law, which requires them to generate 33 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. But due to both the structure of California’s grid and de facto state policy, it’s much easier for California utilitiies to meet their RPS obligations with power generated in California.

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