The Socioeconomic Impacts of Nevada Solar One on Boulder City

In an effort to further understand the socioeconomic impacts of future utility-scale solar facilities on California desert communities, we researched the impacts of existing solar facilities. Our research focused on Nevada Solar One, a 64 MW solar thermal facility located approximately 15 miles from downtown Boulder City, Clark County, Nevada (Map 1). The facility, which began operations in 2007, uses solar trough technology and covers approximately 400 acres.

Map 1  Locations of Nevada Solar One and Boulder City. Boulder City is approximately 25 miles east of Las Vegas and 15 miles northeast of Nevada Solar One. The facility’s location is represented by the square (square not to scale). Base map source: Clark County GIS Management Office.

Overall, Nevada Solar One’s socioeconomic impacts on Boulder City have been minimal (Table 1). During construction, impacts on local traffic, stores, and public services were minor. Though the facility required over 1,000 construction workers, it is likely that few workers came from Boulder City and that few workers utilized the city’s short-term rental housing. Post-construction impacts on local industry, employment, and public services have also been minimal. Although Nevada Solar One has helped to increase local tourism, the biggest impact has been the facility’s lease revenue, which helps to keep Boulder City’s taxes low. Boulder City also receives a portion of the facility’s annual property taxes, which the project developer pays to Clark County. Except for the lease revenue, Nevada Solar One has not greatly changed Boulder City or affected the town’s character.

Table 1 Summary of Nevada Solar One’s Socioeconomic Impacts. A “+” indicates a benefit, while “++” indicates a benefit with a significant effect.
  Community Effects Magnitude of Effect
During Construction Job Creation Negligible
Rental Housing Negligible
Local Restaurants and Stores Negligible
Transit Negligible
Public Services Negligible
During Operation Job Creation Negligible
Lease Payments ++
Property Taxes +
Local Tourism +
Local Industry Negligible
Public Services Negligible