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November 26, 2012

LA Approves Plan to Buy Solar Power from Moapa River Indian Reservation

Solar panel installation lowProposed project on Indian Reservation land would expand clean energy for Los Angeles customers, provide economic benefits

Last week the Los Angeles City Council approved a plan to purchase enough solar power from the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Nevada to power 105,000 homes.

The purchase would provide up to 250 megawatts of electricity for 25 years. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's goal of getting our city off of coal by 2020 has been a key factor behind the drive to invest in more renewable energy. 

This vote represents a chance for the City and the Department of Water and Power to continue their leadership in promoting clean renewable energy investment and economic opportunity.

For the Moapa, the partnership could provide important environmental, health, and economic benefits. The Moapa Band of Paiutes is currently fighting a dirty coal-powered plant located next to their reservation, a plant which has polluted their air and damaged their health for decades. The stories of the Moapa Band of Paiutes were featured in Sierra Magazine's recent "Cost of Coal" photo/video project.


In contrast, the new solar project, developed by KRoad Power Holdings, would produce clean power while providing good jobs and steady income to the tribe. Workers will be represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and members of the tribe will have a pathway to union membership and employment.

"Los Angeles' move towards clean energy is bringing benefits to our city and helping communities of color who have suffered disproportionately from the toxic effects of coal," said Evan Gillespie, the California Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.

"We should be proud of the work we've done and continue to lead the way by promoting renewable energy, good-paying jobs, and cleaner air."

The Sierra Club, in partnership with the Los Angeles Business Council recently launched a billboard campaign to urge Mayor Villaraigosa to keep the momentum to create clean energy jobs.

"The Moapa project shows that the City and the DWP are taking leadership on the environmental front, but also making it a priority to create good jobs and have a positive effect on the communities they impact -- whether here in Los Angeles or in Nevada," said Jessica Goodheart, Director of RePower LA.

-- Refugio Mata, Sierra Club Beyond Coal

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