Solar project proposed north of Reno |

Solar project proposed north of Reno

The Associated Press

RENO, Nev. – A large solar energy project is being proposed by Vidler Water Co. on up to 1,000 acres north of Reno.

Project backers say construction could start next year and be phased in over the next 10 to 15 years if approved by county and regional officials, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

The proposed 100-megawatt farm would be among the largest in the nation, officials said.

The Washoe County Planning Commission was scheduled to consider a special use permit for the project Tuesday night.

Vidler bought the Fish Springs Ranch in 2000 for its water rights and built a pipeline to the north valleys outside Reno for development. But when the housing market collapsed, so did interest from developers in buying those water rights.

Donald Pattalock, Vidler vice president, said establishing a solar farm at the ranch would not require water and would help recoup the company’s investment in the 2,670-acre ranch 40 miles north of Reno.

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The first phase would cost about $75 million and cover 200 acres next to the Fort Sage power substation. Vidler built the station to provide electricity to pump water.

The solar farm would be about six miles from U.S. 395 but not visible from the highway, Pattalock said.

He said private partners would help finance the project and be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit as each phase is completed.

The company also must have a contract with NV Energy to buy the power. Under state law, NV Energy is required to have up to 20 percent of its power coming from renewable sources by 2015 and 25 percent by 2025.