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Renewable energy projects shine brightly

As Nevada continues to make strides in the renewable energy market, Boulder City continues to reap the benefits of the projects that create more jobs and bring in more revenue for the city.

With Sempra U.S. Gas &Power in the early stages of the Copper Mountain Solar 4 Project in the Eldorado Valley energy zone, more jobs are expected to open up in Boulder City, paving the way for more money to be pumped into the local economy.

Upon completion of Copper Mountain 3 in 2015, Sempra will have created more than 1,300 construction jobs and 20 full-time positions in Boulder City since construction began on Copper Mountain 1 in 2010, according to Kevin Gillespie, Sempra’s senior director of construction and operations.

Sempra officials could not give potential numbers for Copper Mountain Solar 4 since it’s still in the early stages of development.

“The Silver State’s strong solar resources, combined with a continued partnership with Boulder City and the state of Nevada, make Boulder City a prime location for solar energy development,” Gillespie said.

Nevada’s abundant sunshine, which is estimated at about 250 days per year, makes it an ideal spot for solar projects, he said.

Solar energy projects continue to generate interest in Washington, and their importance has gained influence from congressmen hoping to use natural resources to build more solar projects.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., recently filed five amendments to the Bring Jobs Home Act, a bill that provides incentives for companies that keep jobs in the United States instead of outsourcing and offshoring. Originally sponsored by Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., the bill passed its first vote in the U.S. Senate 93-7 on July 24.

One of the amendments Heller proposed for the bill was the Public Lands Renewable Energy Act, designed to accelerate renewable energy development on public lands while generating revenues to help local governments provide services such as road maintenance, public safety and law enforcement.

“Considering more than 85 percent of Nevada’s land is federally owned, more needs to be done to help Nevadans access the resources in our own backyards and to help communities develop and grow,” Heller said.

Boulder City’s relationship with Sempra, one of the country’s leading developers in clean energy solutions, continues to be strong, which figures to continue generating local revenue.

“Sempra has been really good for our community,” City Manager Dave Fraser said. “In addition to the jobs they’ve created and the revenues they’ve generated for the community, they’ve been an outstanding community partner.”

Copper Mountain Solar 1 is expected to generate $60 million for Boulder City during the course of at least the next 15 years, and a healthy relationship with one of the biggest energy companies in the country is encouraging to Fraser.

Sempra recently donated a new scoreboard to the Boulder City High School softball field and sponsors local events with the Chamber of Commerce, Fraser said.

“What’s been so great is that they’ve backed up everything they’ve said,” he said. “That kind of track record only helps our relationship with future projects.”

The City Council approved a memorandum of understanding with Sempra toward the negotiation of a lease agreement for the Copper Mountain Solar 4 project in a July 8 meeting.

Sempra will pay $1,500 per acre on 687 acres of land, which, according to the agreement, will account for more than $1 million per year in lease revenue for Boulder City.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow @StevenSlivka on Twitter.

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