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Plans scrapped for huge solar array north of Las Vegas

CARSON CITY – Plans for what would have been the largest solar installation in Nevada — a 9,200-acre facility on public land roughly 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas — have been withdrawn by the sponsor, the Bureau of Land Management confirmed Thursday.

In an undated letter sent this week to the field manager of BLM’s Las Vegas office, which the agency provided Thursday, the project’s sponsors, Oakland-based Solar Partners VII LLC, said it would withdraw the application “in response to recent communication” with the agency.

Solar Partners, one of the named entities behind the proposal along with Arevia Power, said it reserved the right to refile application “should BLM policy change to allow for solar development in the original application area.”

At 850 megawatts, the planned project, covering more than 14 square miles and touching on a raised prehistoric sea bed known as Mormon Mesa northeast of the Moapa Valley near Overton, would have been the largest in the state. Arevia is also behind the 690-megawatt, 7,000-acre Gemini Solar project being built 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The Battle Born project drew opposition from naturalists and environmentalists, recreation enthusiasts, tribal groups and local residents for its potential impact on the area. Access to a massive landscape art installation, Double Negative by Michael Heizer, also stood to be affected.

First publicly proposed in April 2020, the project did not find favor with BLM’s review of a dozen large-scale renewable energy projects that prioritizes “applications that have the fewest resource conflicts and the greatest likelihood of success in the permitting process,” said Kirsten Cannon, a BLM spokeswoman. “The Battle Born project rated as low priority both in the initial ranking and after the proponent provided additional information and requested reconsideration.”

BLM, she added, is “committed to the right renewable energy projects in the right place with the right plan.” She said BLM’s Southern Nevada office has multiple solar energy projects in various stages of review totaling more than 3,000 megawatts.

The company phone number listed on the withdrawal letter Solar Partners sent to BLM has been disconnected. In response to calls and emails sent to principals, a company spokesman responded in an email saying Solar Partners “withdrew the application for the Battle Born Project to relocate it to a more optimal site with better proximity to transmission. Several sites are under consideration.”

An October 2020 presentation by the sponsors said the project, then slated to begin construction in 2022, would create more than 1,100 construction jobs, add $530 million to the state’s economy, and offset 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 annually.

Nevada voters in 2020 approved an initiative requiring the state to obtain 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. A state law passed in 2019 calls for the same thing.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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