Sun and steam

California-based Sempra Generation is coming back for more solar energy in Nevada. The company built the nation’s biggest solar photovoltaic power plant in Boulder City in 2010. Now it wants to build one that will produce three times the amount of electricity—a 150-megawatt, thin-film solar PV plant on 1,100 acres in Boulder City. Construction on “Copper Mountain Solar 2” is expected to get underway in early 2012, begin producing electricity by 2013, and be completed in 2015.

Electricity from the plant—enough to power 45,000 homes—will be sent to California. PG&E, California’s largest electric utility, announced last week it will triple the amount of solar power it buys from Sempra in Nevada under a 25-year power contract. Employed by the project at any given time will be an estimated 175 construction workers.

In local geothermal news, the Bureau of Land Management in Elko has given Reno-based Ormat Nevada the go-ahead for an access road for the Tuscarora Geothermal Plant and for a transmission line nearly 25 miles long. It will be able to carry 120 kilovolts from the 18-megawatt geothermal plant. The line will affect nearly nine miles of BLM land and 16 miles of private land.

The news comes as Reno prepares to host the international geothermal community at the first Geothermal Energy Association national summit on Aug. 16-17 at the Grand Sierra Resort. Ormat’s Paul Thomsen serves as GEA’s board president.