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$2.1 billion solar plant planned for Kingman area

KINGMAN – A new solar plant is planned for Mohave County, the fourth and largest now slated to be built in Arizona’s northwest corner.

The 340-megawatt plant would be built about 27 miles northwest of Kingman by Mohave Sun Power, LLC, on land it plans to buy from Las Vegas developer Jim Rhodes. The facility will use a solar-thermal design, with parabolic mirrors concentrating the sun’s energy on tubes carrying oil. The heated oil is piped to a central facility to generate steam to turn generators. Some of the energy will be stored in molten salt tanks for use after dark, and a secondary heating system using oil, gas or biofuels can also keep the plant running on cloudy days.

The $2.1 billion plant will be one of the largest of its type in the world, project director Greg Bartlett said Tuesday.

Another plant using the same technology is planned south of Kingman. That 200-megawatt facility is being developed by Albiasa Solar. A Mohave County housing development called The Ranch at White Hills is building a solar facility to power its homes, and a smaller solar project is slated for the Yucca area.

“This is proof that our (Arizona’s) renewable energy standard is finally bearing fruit,” said Arizona Corporation Commission Chairwoman Kris Mayes.

The company looked all over the Southwest before settling on Mohave County, Bartlett said. Some of the benefits to locating the project in Mohave County, as compared to Maricopa County, included a higher elevation, the remote area, the amount of water and the ability to acquire 4,000 acres from a private landholder. The company has a lease purchase agreement with Rhodes for the property.

According to information from Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson’s office, the plant will use about 1,500 to 3,000 acre-feet of water per year to wash the mirrors and generate steam. The plant intends to recycle some of the water. The company says it’s well aware of the water concerns in the county and is spending a lot of time upfront on the issue, Bartlett said.

The ACC is watching the water issue carefully, Mayes said.

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