Travel Center Near Valley of Fire Lights Up Solar Array

Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribe, USDA complete energy project

Moapa Travel Plaza (CSP Daily News / Convenience Store Petroleum)

VALLEY OF FIRE, Nevada -- The Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribe and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rural utilities service administrator John Padalino celebrated the completion earlier this month of a $2.38 million solar power array at the Moapa Travel Plaza along Interstate 15 North, near the Valley of Fire State Park turnoff about 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

They expect the project to lower energy costs and improve tribal business enterprise, while reducing carbon in the environment.

"The Moapa Paiutes Tribe's solar project is the latest step toward building a clean-energy economy," said Padalino. "This innovative hybrid micro-grid project will deliver reliable, affordable power to the Moapa Travel Plaza, the largest employer of the tribe. USDA funding of this innovative 252 kw solar facility is fundamental to economic opportunities of the Moapa Tribe and aligns with their commitment to environmental protection."

Padalino and tribal leaders announced completion of the off-grid, self-contained hybrid system at the travel plaza, located off Exit 75 near the site of the tribe's new solar array. The project was funded through USDA's High Energy Cost Grant program, which provides funding for energy efficiency improvements in areas with energy costs at least 275% of the national average.

The project included installation of LED lights around the travel plaza, development of a concentrated photo voltaic (CPV) hybrid system that includes nine towers with CPV trackers, a battery backup system, and three energy efficient generators.

The CPV hybrid system is unique in that is uses nine towers with American-made Soitec Dual Axis CPV Trackers, which move to track the sun and are highly productive. Each of the trackers produces 28 kw, totaling 252 kw of clean, renewable energy. The system was manufactured in Rancho Bernardo, Calif. In addition, the system includes a battery bank, two 250 kVA generators and a 375 kVA diesel generator to maintain energy flow at night and to keep a reserve for fuel pump operations.

The tribe said it expects that the solar power array will reduce reliance on diesel powered generators at the off-grid site and will result in a 34% power offset, saving the tribe more than $700,000 annually in fuel costs. In the past, diesel power and generator rental cost exceeded $650,000 annually at this off-grid facility.

Stronghold Engineering, the contractor that designed, engineered and constructed the CPV hybrid system, estimates that the new system will use 162,480 fewer gallons of diesel each year. Each gallon of diesel fuel burned releases about 22.38 pounds of carbon emissions into the environment. Because of this project, carbon emissions will be reduced by an estimated 3.6 million pounds annually.

The newly remodeled travel plaza offers Native American art, a cafe, recreational supplies, fireworks and fuel to the traveling and recreation-seeking public.