Nye County's Solar Energy Potential

Solar resources in Nye County are among the best in the nation for both concentrating solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) systems. In March 2010 Nye County performed a Suitability Analysis for Nye County Solar Generation, Transmission, and Related Support Facilities. The suitability model included primary variables of solar resources, slope, and land exclusions (federally protected lands). Secondary variables included proximity to flood and seismic hazards, proximity to roads and power transmission corridors, visual resources and desert tortoise and sage grouse habitats. The analysis results were presented in a large format map, showing the locations of "good, better, and best" suitable lands in Nye County for solar development.

Final PEIS for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States Issued

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States. Through the Final PEIS, the BLM is evaluating actions that will facilitate utility-scale solar energy development on public lands in six western states, including Nevada.

The official website for the Solar PEIS is: Documents related to the development of the Final Solar PEIS, including related or referenced documents, are available for downloading or online browsing.

Some Key Solar PEIS Documents:

The BLM and DOE initiated the Solar PEIS process in May 2008. On December 17, 2010, DOE and BLM published the Solar Energy Development Draft PEIS for review. BLM-managed public lands were studied in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Categories of land that were excluded in the Draft Solar PEIS from evaluation for utility scale solar development included:

  • BLM-administered lands currently restricted from solar energy development, including lands prohibited by law, regulation, Presidential proclamation, or Executive Order (e.g., Lands in the National Landscape Conservation System).
  • Lands that have slopes greater than or equal to 5%.
  • Lands that have solar insolation levels below 6.5 kWh/m2/day.
  • Lands with known resources, resource uses, or special designations identified in local land use plans that are incompatible with solar energy development.

Seven Solar Energy Zones (SEZ) were proposed in Nevada in the Draft Solar PEIS.

Supplement to the Draft Solar PEIS. On October 28, 2011, the Supplement to the Draft Solar PEIS became available for public comment. The Supplement selected Solar Energy Zones (SEZ) from among the Solar Study Areas and recommended utility scale development be restricted to these zones.

BLM and DOE Release Final Solar PEIS. On July 24, 2012, the BLM and DOE released the Final PEIS for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States, and made the document available for downloading or browsing online. The Final Solar PEIS proposed 5 SEZs in Nevada: Amargosa, Dry Lake, Dry Lake Valley North, Gold Point, and Millers. Two of the proposed SEZs in the Draft PEIS were eliminated from further consideration (i.e., Delamar Valley and East Mormon Mountain).

Record of Decision for the Solar PEIS. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the Record of Decision for the Solar PEIS on October 12, 2012. The BLM's Protest Resolution Report addressing issues raised during the Final Solar PEIS protest period is also available.

Follow-on Studies: BLM's Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) Solar Regional Mitigation Planning (SRMP) Pilot Project. The BLM hosted the second public workshop for the Dry Lake SEZ SRMP on October 24-25, 2012 in Las Vegas. The topic of the workshop was baseline conditions and unavoidable impacts, and a field tour to the SEZ was included. Additional information about the project is available through the Solar PEIS Follow-on Studies page.

Solar Projects in Nye County

The BLM Southern Nevada District Office provides a MAP of renewable energy project locations within the BLM Southern Nevada District Office and a TABLE of renewable projects and their status.

BLM provides FAST FACTS about renewable energy projects that have made sufficient progress to formally start the environmental review and public participation process. The Nye County solar projects listed include:

Solar Millennium, LLC: Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project

On November 15, 2010 the U.S. Department of the Interior approved the Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project, a 500-megawatt (MW) facility located in Amargosa Valley in Nye County, Nevada. The project would cover approximately 4,350 acres on public lands managed by the BLM through its Southern Nevada District Office. The project would have used dry-cooled CSP technology that would include two 250-MW parabolic trough power plants equipped with thermal energy storage capability. The Solar Millennium LLC project was expected to create 1,300 construction jobs and up to 200 permanent operations jobs. In this BLM Fast Track Renewable Energy Project, BLM, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service worked closely with Solar Millennium to develop a water use mitigation plan that can serve as a model for future solar projects.

As of January 2013, Solar Millennium is no longer pursuing development of the site. Developers who are interested in siting a solar project on this site should contact:

BLM, Las Vegas Field Office
Attn: Greg Helseth, Renewable Energy Project Manager
4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89130
or by email:
or by fax: (702) 515-5023

Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC.: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project

Tonopah Solar Energy LLC was granted a right-of-way by the BLM to construct and operate a 110MW solar thermal power generation facility, associated transmission facilities, and access roads. This project will be located on approximately 1,600 acres of BLM-managed lands northwest of Tonopah in Nye County, Nevada. The proposed solar power project will use CSP technology heliostats to focus sunlight on a receiver erected in the center of the solar field. The project qualified for state tax abatement and is expected to create 450 jobs. This project was a BLM Fast Track Renewable Energy Project.

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Concentrating Solar Resource: Annual Average Direct Normal Solar Resource (after NREL, 2009). CLICK HERE for an enlarged version of the map.

Photovoltaic Solar Resource: Annual Average Flat Plate Tilted South at Latitude Solar Resource (after NREL, 2008). CLICK HERE for an enlarged version of the map.

Suitability for Solar Generation, Transmission, and Related Support Facilities in Nye County, Nevada. CLICK HERE for an enlarged version of the full map.