Tonopah's Bright Future: Solar Reserve to Expand - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Tonopah's Bright Future: Solar Reserve to Expand

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If you ever drive to Las Vegas from Reno, just before the small town of Tonopah there's a bright shining tower in the distance. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project has been up and running since 2011 and already has plans to expand Nevada's solar energy market big time.

They create a giant done of radiant light, something that looks straight out of the future - 10,000 heliostats or 1,200 square foot mirrors surround the towering receiver that stands 640 feet in the air. 

Crescent Dunes is massive spanning 1.75 miles wide harnessing solar energy from the Nevada desert's ample sunlight. From here, 75,000 homes are powered in Las Vegas. 

"Our goal is to deploy this technology on a larger scale in Nevada and provide power to more homes in Nevada," said VP of Global Communications for Solar Reserve, Mary Grikas. 

Project developer, Solar Reserve has big plans to take advantage of Nevada's high desert. They want to build 10 more of these outside of Tonopah and possibly get solar energy to Northern Nevada and California.

"A facility here in Nevada can help power California while providing a lot of economic benefits into Nevada."

This would mean a major boom for Tonopah. About 3,000 temporary construction jobs and 350 permanent jobs would be coming. Not to mention, a lot of money would be pumped into the state and Nye County from energy exports to California.  

Some Tonopah locals are looking forward to it. 

"They bring a lot of jobs. They're good people and they care about this community," said Darby Blackwell.

Other locals we spoke with who didn't want to go on record are a little more concerned than hopeful. With more people means the need for more schools, infrastructure, and housing. 

"Well, we're going to have to work closely with Nye County on housing," said Grikas. "We've recognized that. We've started discussions."

As for when the 10 new towers would be built, Solar Reserve has selected land and are submitting permits. They hope to start building in the next couple of years.

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