Nevada solar project pits green energy against sage grouse

By Scott Streater | 07/08/2024 01:32 PM EDT

Critics say a proposed solar farm under consideration by the Bureau of Land Management would encroach on greater sage grouse habitat.

Greater sage grouse and sagebrush in Nye County, Nevada.

Greater sage grouse and sagebrush are shown in Nye County, Nevada. David Bakken/Flickr

A major proposed solar power project in east-central Nevada has sparked concern among environmental groups about how it could harm greater sage grouse habitat.

The Samantha Solar Development Project, proposed by Moab, Utah-based Balanced Rock Power, would have the capacity to produce up to 600 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power roughly 180,000 homes. It includes a battery energy storage system that would allow it to send electricity to the grid after the sun sets.

The Bureau of Land Management published a notice in the Federal Register on Monday removing 4,800 acres of federal lands from new mining claims for two years while it evaluates the utility-scale solar power project in White Pine County, west of Ely, Nevada — a region of the state that has recently started to see interest from the solar industry.


The project is proposed to be built on “variance” tracts where BLM has previously determined solar projects can be built if they meet certain requirements.