Moapa Solar Project Nominated for Project of the Year

By September 20, 2016 FeaturedNews
Moapa Southern Paiute Solar

The Moapa Southern Paiute Solar 353 MW project has been nominated for Solar Builder’s coveted Project of the Year award!

Cast your vote now if you think the Moapa solar project, that brought the first utility-scale solar project to U.S. tribal lands, should win Solar Builder’s Project of the Year award in the ground-mount utility and municipality category.

Why is the Moapa solar project deserving of an award?
Moapa Southern Paiute honored TerraSmart by choosing its experienced construction team to work on the hallowed Moapa River Indian Reservation to construct a 353-MW (AC) project — work completed on a tight time schedule (six months), on-time and on-budget.

The project, the first utility-scale solar plant on U.S. tribal lands, faced a variety of challenges, particularly the sand/caliche type of soil. Caliche, a combination of soil fused together by limestone, is primarily found in South America, so it was a challenge most U.S. racking companies couldn’t (or wouldn’t) embrace. Underneath a 12-24 inch layer of caliche, our engineers found 8-12 inches of light sand, which would pose significant issues for typical driven piles. That’s why TerraSmart’s ground screws were a cost-effective solution to the problem. The ground screws also provided an accelerated foundation for the fixed-tilt mounting solutions that were to support 3,209,091 modules on approximately 2,000 acres on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Clark County, Nevada. The speed with which the foundation could be laid was crucial to keeping this mammoth project on schedule. As this was the first large solar installation on tribal lands, it was particularly important to Moapa Solar to make sure the project came off perfectly — a feat that our partnership helped facilitate.

Moapa Solar Ground Conditions

Moapa Solar Ground Conditions


The loose sand top layer posed an interesting problem: It required pinpoint accuracy from TerraSmart to ensure proper pile location without unduly damaging the sacred Paiute lands. It also prevented the company from using the standard survey method of staking points, because this wouldn’t work with the loose soil. For many racking companies, this challenge would have caused unacceptable delays in installation velocity and unbudgeted expenses that would have adversely affected the project’s financial stability. But TerraSmart’s extensive team of dedicated engineers proved up to the task of developing proprietary software to survey and drill at the project site, enabling the proper accuracy to complete the project. This software loaded the rock-drill machines with the coordinates to locate foundation points, and drilling was completed without disturbing unnecessary land and saving money for the developers. Moapa Solar told TerraSmart how pleased they were with how respectful the company was of its land and people, saying it was unusual for companies to take so much care not to disturb the sacred spaces around the array.

Moapa Solar

TerraSmart racks in perfect symmetry in Moapa.


The project used First Solar’s advanced photovoltaic (PV) thin-film solar modules, predicted to 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 (PPA) with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to deliver clean, solar energy for 25 years.

Moapa Southern Paiute Solar LLC (a subsidiary of First Solar Electric LLC) is forward-thinking in their dedication to renewables and using 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, and TerraSmart would be honored to help them reach that admirable goal.

Moapa Southern Paiute Solar - Moapa Solar

Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project


Voting for Solar Builder’s Project of the Year concludes on September 30, 2016. Cast your vote today for the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project.

UPDATE: October 28, 2016 – We won!