BOULDER CITY, Nev. - NV Energy's newest solar power plant came online Monday. Boulder Solar 2 now pumps 50 megawatts of sun-powered energy per hour into the grid.
Boulder City's Eldorado Valley is turning into a sea of solar panels. Boulder Solar 1 and 2 are just five miles south of Boulder City. The roughly thousand-acre site sits off U.S. 95, and it's part of a larger solar park.
Since both parts are fully online, the project is now the second-largest renewable energy resource in NV Energy's solar portfolio.
"This actually gets us to about 550 MW total of solar energy that we're providing," said Pat Egan, Senior VP, Renewables & Smart Infrastructure, NV Energy. "We also have a number of geothermal projects."
On a sunny day, they produce 150 megawatts of electricity an hour. That's enough to power 90,000 Las Vegas homes during peak summer demand.
"This is your jack screw. This one horse power motor controls 18 rows, and it uses the drive shaft to do it," Robert Moon of SunPower said as he demonstrated.
Moon says the solar panels use GPS and smart sensors to track the sun across the sky. That ensures the panels soak up as much solar energy as possible.
"Go to 45 degrees to the east, wait for the sun to get up, right when it's the optimal level of it's reading, at that point, it will track the sun the entire time," Moon said.
The panels convert solar energy to electricity. It funnels through large inverters collecting at the on-site substation.
From there the electricity goes into the high voltage lines and into the power grid.
"The energy is provided to all of our customers," Egan said. "The renewable energy credits are dedicated to Apple, so that's the commitment they're making, and we're masking with them."
NV Energy is partnering with Apple on three renewable energy projects, including Boulder Solar. Executives say by 2020, nearly 20 percent of the electricity NV Energy provides to customers will come from solar thanks in large part to that partnership.
To get there, the amount of commercial solar generation in the state is expected to surpass one gigawatt over the next few years.
Nevada has 43 renewable generating sites across the state; a third of those are solar facilities, mostly here in the south.
Up north, it's geothermal, but what about coal?
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