Crescent Dunes boosts Nevada’s new solar economy

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Crescent Dunes boosts Nevada’s new solar economy  After Nevada Sen. Harry Reid announced in his energy report that renewable and solar projects are helping to breathe new life back into the state’s economy, SolarReserve was eager to report its job numbers.

The company is building the 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes solar tower outside of Tonapah, Nev., right now.

The project is expected to employ more than 600 people throughout the next two years while it’s being built, said SolarReserve vice president of development Tom Georgis.

“It’s certainly the largest capital investment in the state right now,” Georgis said. “We’re spending close to $1 billion. Certainly, not all of that is coming directly from Nevada, but a lot of a direct investment in Nevada.”

Beyond SolarReserve’s direct spending at the site, there is a ripple effect, Georgis said. A network of support services will spring up to provide food, housing and amenities for the workers involved with the project.

Once it’s finished, Georgis said SolarReserve estimates that it will spend $10 million annually at the site. That will cover worker salaries for about 50 people who will run the power plant.

“Given where the project is located, these will be high paying jobs,” Georgis said.

The jobs are especially welcome in a state with the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, he said. The state has historically relied on the mining industry and tourist trade for jobs. But Georgis said the state is welcoming to renewable energy ventures as most of the political leaders in both parties believe in the diversification of the state’s economy.

In addition to the direct spending impact, it’s expected to generate another $47 million in tax revenues over the first 10 years of operation, Georgis said.

SolarReserve entered a contract with NV Power for this solar plant and will be providing energy for 75,000 homes during peak production.

Nevada also has a lot of opportunity to build large-scale solar projects and sell power to neighboring California, Georgis said.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for Nevada to become a renewable energy leader in the country,” Georgis said. “We’re certainly being bullish in Nevada and hoping to have more projects to announce there.”