Amonix to Build Solar Plant Near Las Vegas
A solar power company plans to build a manufacturing plant in the Las Vegas area, creating about 300 jobs in what officials say is an emerging industry for Nevada. The company, Amonix, announced the new facility at a press conference showing off a solar power generating plant built by Amonix at a Southern Nevada Water Authority facility.
The location of the manufacturing facility has not been announced. Amonix CEO Brian Robertson said the company is considering three sites and expects to make a decision in the next few weeks. Once the site is selected, construction will begin immediately and the facility should be operational by the end of the year, Robertson said.
The company already has facilities in Southern California but chose to expand in Southern Nevada. The company is also getting a $5.9 million tax credit as from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
â€śNevada is a friendly place to do business. Itâ€™s less expensive than California,â€ť Robertson said.
Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada said the new facility will help to diversify Nevadaâ€™s economy. â€śWe know that we canâ€™t depend forever on the gambling industry, leisure-time business, although itâ€™s going to continue to thrive and do well,â€ť Reid said. â€śMining is good, but the one thing we havenâ€™t looked to in the past is green energy. Weâ€™ve got a lot of it here and weâ€™re going to continue to develop that.â€ť
â€śIâ€™d like to have tens of thousands of people working on these jobs, but thatâ€™s coming,â€ť Reid said. â€śI think the future is so bright for what we can do in Nevada with renewable energy.â€ť
The regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jared Blumenfeld, said Nevada will play a key role as the nation moves toward using more sustainable energy.
â€śMany people think about solar power, they think about what it can look like on their rooftop, but very few understand that the future of solar power and renewable energy largely is going to be in this state and in Arizona,â€ť Blumenfeld said. â€śWhen you think about the sunshine, this is where it is. These kinds of projects show us what can be done on a utilities scale. The amount of power here is really starting to be significant.â€ť
The solar plant unveiled Saturday is part of the water authorityâ€™s River Mountains Water Treatment Facility in Henderson. Its six concentrated photovoltaic panels are capable of producing 308 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power 50 medium-sized homes for a year, and unlike traditional solar power plants, they use no water.
â€śNothing is more connected than water and power,â€ť said water authority General Manager Pat Mulroy. â€śThe two are inseparable. You need water to generate electricity, except for these lovelies behind me, and you need energy in order to move and treat drinking water.â€ť
Mulroy said the water authority is the largest user of power in the Las Vegas Valley.
The water authorityâ€™s plant is a model for others to follow, Blumenfeld said.
â€śA huge amount of energy across the United States goes into moving water from one place to another and to cleaning the water at the end of the day,â€ť he said. â€śThese kinds of solutions need to be done everywhere. And in order to do them everywhere, you need to show they can be done one place well.â€ť
Gary Wood, the authorityâ€™s renewable energy program manager, said the solar plant is part of the organizationâ€™s effort to diversify its power sources, but it is also a research and development project.
The solar power plant uses lenses to magnify the sunâ€™s rays before capturing the power. The panels also move to follow the sun throughout the day and have less of an impact on the desert. The system is more efficient and less expensive than traditional photovoltaic panels, Amonix founder Vahan Garboushian said.