TerraSmart, an industry leader in turnkey solar mounting, recently completed a landmark solar mounting project for Moapa Southern Paiute Solar. The project is the first and largest utility-scale solar plant on U.S. tribal lands and a testament to the value of partnerships and overcoming unique project obstacles. The 250-MWac project utilized TerraSmart’s surveying, drilling, ground screw and fix tilt mounting solutions to support 3,209,091 modules on approximately 2,000 acres on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Clark County, Nevada.
The project faced a variety of challenges; most notably the sand/caliche type of soil at the project site. The 12-24 inch layer of caliche, a layer of soil in which the soil particles have been cemented together by lime, topped by 8-12 inches of light sand, posed issues for the typical driven piles. To overcome this, TerraSmart utilized ground screws as a cost effective solution. In addition to being the ideal solution for the caliche soil, the ground screws provided an accelerated foundation which was critical for this project to stay on schedule to completion. Additionally, the loose sand top layer provided some unique challenges due to the accuracy needed for pile location.
“The standard survey method of staking points would not work with the loose soil and installation velocity needed to meet the schedule. But we were committed to delivering a successful, high-quality project, so we developed a proprietary software to survey/drill at the same time. The rock drill machines were loaded with the coordinates to locate foundation points and drilling began at that location. This enabled us to meet the accuracy we needed for the racking to go up correctly and on-time,” explained Ryan Reid, TerraSmart CEO.
The Moapa Band of Paiutes is forward-thinking in their dedication to renewables and utilizing their lands for energy production. In all, it plans to develop up to 1.5 GW of renewable energy on their 70,000 acres of tribal lands.
“Stewardship of our lands is paramount and carefully utilizing this precious resource to spur economic development is an ideal solution,” said Robert Tom, Chairman, Moapa Band of Paiutes. “TerraSmart showed incredible respect for our land and our combined approach of minimizing impact while maximizing resources.”
Moapa Southern Paiute Solar, LLC (a subsidiary of First Solar Electric, LLC) is the project owner and constructed the project using First Solar’s advanced photovoltaic (PV) thin film solar modules.
According to First Solar, the completed project will generate enough clean solar energy to serve approximately 100,000 homes per year, displacing approximately 178,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually — the equivalent of taking about 34,000 cars off the road. It will also include an onsite substation and a new 5.5 mile 500 kV transmission line that will connect to the existing Crystal Substation serving energy users in California. Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project has a Power Purchase Agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to deliver clean, solar energy for 25 years.
News item from TerraSmart