In Boulder City, Nevada, the city council has paved the way for a fifth solar power array on 1,500 acres of land in an area called the Black Hills site, located in the Eldorado Valley Energy Zone. It did so by forging a development agreement between the city and the company behind the project.

hoover dam solar power plant

Boulder City is a superb spot to locate solar farms, largely because of the spider’s web of high-voltage transmission lines running from Hoover Dam to Los Angeles, the dam’s primary customer.

The area already contains Nevada Solar One (CSP; 75 MW), and El Dorado and Copper Mountain III (thin-film, the latter an expansion of the former, for a total of 65 MW). Add to that the Posco Power/Sustainable Energy Partners planned 300 MW solar photovoltaic installation (by 2014), and the newest plant—a 200-MW installation—creates a power paradigm that is so “green” (figurately speaking) it’s hard to imagine.

Like the Copper Mountain Project, the newest one is courtesy of Delaware-based Sempra Generation, and rests on the most secure foundation possible; a development agreement that essentially prevents future city councils from making any changes, thus tying up the land for Sempra for the next 50 years, even though a lease agreement was already in place.

Part of the impetus behind the planning might be the city’s $95 million debt, which will be gradually offset by Sempra payments estimated at $200 million over the next half century. This debt effectively put the city in the poverty zone last year—a challenge which it met by reducing services (like the public information office) and instituting a hiring freeze.

The newest Sempra offering is slated to begin construction in late 2010, at a cost of about $1 billion.

Photo Credit: Wouter Kiel via Flickr CC