Impacts During Facility Operation

While in operation, Nevada Solar One’s socioeconomic effects have been more substantial than during the construction phase. Twenty- eight full-time jobs were created for facility operation and lease payments and property taxes will provide a steady stream of revenue for many years to come. Post-construction, the facility has had minimal affect on local tourism, industry, and public services.

Job Creation
A representative from Acciona said that there are between 28 and 32 full-time equivalent individuals that work at Nevada Solar One. There is always a minimum of 28 staff, but this number fluctuates as contractors are brought in for short-term work. The facility is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Individuals that work at the facility year-round serve a variety of functions. Field workers are required for general maintenance and to wash the mirrors while others are needed to work inside of the power block and control room. A business development professional said every full time employee is a Nevada resident and is paid equal to or above the Nevada state average wage, which in 2007 translated to wages of $18 per hour or more. A representative from Acciona said “more than half the people” now working at Nevada Solar One come from the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

Local Fiscal Effects
Local governments, including Boulder City and Clark County, benefit from the long-term revenue stream created by Nevada Solar One. Acciona’s lease payments add an additional $700,000 annually to Boulder City’s general fund. These lease payments will increase over the project’s 40-year lease period in step with increases to the Consumer Price Index. A city planner noted that Acciona’s lease payments, which in 2007 accounted for approximately 2.3 percent of the city’s budget, allow Boulder City to decrease the tax burden on individual residents while still maintaining a high level of services. Clark County and municipalities within the county benefit from Nevada Solar One’s property tax payments, which total approximately $400,000 annually.

Local Tourism
When asked how Nevada Solar One may have affected local tourism, interviewees gave mixed responses. A community development planner noted that Nevada Solar One had “put us on the map internationally.” He added, “The solar facility has indirectly helped our tourism by bringing us to the attention of people who normally wouldn’t have paid attention to Boulder City.” He explained that the city gets “quite a few requests” for tours of the facility, noting an upcoming tour with a group of Australian solar developers. Furthermore, a portion of a popular television show was filmed in Boulder City, likely as a result of the publicity the city received because of Nevada Solar One. He added that international tourists are attracted to Boulder City because of recognition the city has received from the solar facility, but come to enjoy the city’s other tourist attractions. An employee at NV Energy was less optimistic; in reference to the millions of tourists drawn to the Las Vegas area, he did not think that Nevada Solar One “moved the needle at all.”

Impacts to outdoor recreation at the facility site have not been an issue. Prior to facility construction, the project site area was unpopular for outdoor activities. Thus, one interviewee believed that Nevada Solar One did not negatively affect recreation in the area.

Local Industry
In general, interviewees did not believe that Nevada Solar One has had lasting impacts on the area’s industry. One interviewee noted that Nevada Solar One was “small in comparison to other things going on” in the metropolitan Las Vegas economy. Since Nevada Solar One came online, solar development has progressed rapidly in Boulder City; as of fall 2009, several solar developers had expressed interest in leasing land within the city. Given this continued interest to build utility-scale solar in Boulder City, one area planner speculated that the trend is more likely a result of the city’s prime location than a result of Nevada Solar One: “We have three major transmission corridors that go through town” as well as a substation that transmits power to Los Angeles. He added, “Nevada Solar One may not have been the reason [for increased solar development], but I think it may have been a contributing reason.” In contrast, another interviewee believed Nevada Solar One has helped draw other solar developers to the area.

Public Services
It is unlikely that Nevada Solar One will be a burden on city and county public services, such as the fire and police departments. Interviews with solar developers suggest that utility-scale solar facilities similar to Nevada Solar One pose a minimal fire hazard at worst. Additionally, none of the interviewees were familiar with any vandalism, theft, or safety problems related to the solar facility.

Electricity rates in Boulder City were unaffected by Nevada Solar One. NV Energy, a large electric utility that serves parts of Nevada and California, purchases Nevada Solar One’s power; however, this entity does not serve Boulder City electric customers.