Switch takes its data centers off grid

LAS VEGAS - Going off the grid: Switch celebrated that milestone Monday by flipping the switch on two massive solar fields at Apex Industrial Park. The two large solar-powered generating plants built near Las Vegas will power the operations of commercial data company Switch in northern and southern Nevada.

The road to building big solar plants in Nevada has been long and winding at times, but when another major project came online Monday, it took the state's Switch data centers completely off the grid.

"It's fantastic to be able to have this opportunity now to commemorate us being 100 percent green," said Sam Castor, executive VP, Switch.

The Switch Station 1 and 2 solar fields have enough panels to cover 275 NFL football fields.  Ian Black is is the western regional director of EDF Renewable Energy's power plants in the west.

"To power this much five years ago might have taken 50 percent more land, so we're getting better every single year in every project that we do," Black said. 

So how big is this project? At 179 megawatts, the Switch station project is the largest solar power plant in the state. The easiest way to put things in perspective is knowing that there's enough power for 100,000 homes.

Retired U.S. Senator Harry Reid, D-NV, says Nevada has become a solar leader since the great recession, but he also said clean energy is becoming more and more of a partisan issue under the Trump administration. 

"We've struggled, but we've made progress, and so I'm very disappointed that the tax bill now is trying to take away those benefits and give them to coal and oil," Reid said.

Regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill or in the White House, solar companies have big goals in Nevada over the next few years.

Switch representatives hint they might be a part of that.

"We've always said our commitment is to be 100 percent green, and as we grow,  we have the green energy to be able to sustain our data centers," said Castor.


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