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BLM advances $1 billion battery-backed solar project in Nevada

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Platts North American Electricity Analytics Service

BLM advances $1 billion battery-backed solar project in Nevada

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Gemini project would have 690 MW of solar, 380 MW of storage

Project supported by 25-year PPA with NV Energy

Houston — A sprawling battery-backed solar project, proposed on federal land in Nevada and projected to cost more than $1 billion, is one step closer to breaking ground after the US Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management released a favorable final environmental impact statement on December 30.

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The Gemini Solar + Battery Storage Project, with 690 MW of solar photovoltaics, or PV, and 380 MW of battery storage, is underpinned by a recently-approved 25-year power purchase agreement between NV Energy Inc. and an affiliate of private equity investor Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners Pty Ltd, which is developing the project together with California-based Arevia Power.

The agency's final environmental report details a preferred site development plan that varies from the original project proposal. The agency's alternative plan would carve out additional space for vegetation, natural land contours and endangered desert tortoises.

If confirmed by the agency's record of decision, following a 60-day review period, the project could start construction in early 2020. A first phase is scheduled to be energized in 2021, with final completion no later than December 2023.

OTHER SIMILAR PROJECTS IN SOUTHWEST

The project is one of numerous large-scale solar-plus-storage installations in the advanced stages of development in Nevada and the Desert Southwest.

In early December, Nevada energy regulators approved long-term contracts for two additional projects with NV Energy, a utility subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Those include the Arrow Canyon Solar Project, a 200-MW PV project with 75 MW of storage, under development by an affiliate of France-based EDF Group, and 8minute Solar Energy LLC's Southern Bighorn Solar & Storage Center, a 300-MW solar facility with 135 MW of battery storage.

Southern Bighorn will deliver power at an average price of $35/MWh, below the cost of fossil fuel-based generation, according to 8Minute Solar Energy President and CEO Tom Buttgenbach.

-- Garrett Hering, S&P Global Market Intelligence, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Zac Aiuppa, newsdesk@spglobal.com