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December 12, 2012

L.A. Commits to Solar


On December 6, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed a landmark agreement to purchase power from a solar project to be built on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Nevada—the first-ever commercial solar project on Native American lands. The project will provide power to more than 110,000 L.A. homes.

"Today, we're signing the largest solar contract in the history of the L.A. Department of Water & Power," Villaraigosa said. "Our contract with the K Road Moapa Solar Project will provide 250 megawatts of solar power. That's enough energy to power over 113,000 homes." Below, Villaraigosa with Sierra Club leaders and Moapa Paiute President William Anderson at the ceremony. Sierra Club President Allison Chin is next to the mayor.


The Sierra Club has been actively promoting the agreement between the City of Los Angeles and the Moapa Band of Paiutes, and partnering with the tribe to retire the dirty Reid Gardner coal plant, which sits immediately adjacent to the Moapa reservation about an hour northeast of Las Vegas.

"This groundbreaking agreement is great news for everyone involved," said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Club's Beyond Coal campaign. "From the Moapa Band of Paiutes, who are building the solar farm on their land; to the residents of Los Angeles, who will reap the benefits of cleaner electricity; and to all Americans demanding a transition to clean energy; we salute the grassroots organizing by local citizens and strong leadership from city officials that brought this project to fruition."


Chin, above with Villaraigosa, spoke at the event. Sierra Club Communications Director Bob Sipchen, below, an L.A-area native and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist formerly with the Los Angeles Times, was also on hand for the ceremony.


"The Moapa Solar Project will be a boost to the Paiutes and the Sierra Club's ongoing efforts to replace coal with clean energy in southern Nevada," Chin said. "Paiute families are suffering from high numbers of asthma attacks, heart conditions and even cancer that's associated with coal pollution from the Reid Gardner plant."

Below, Chin with educator & Angeles Chapter volunteer Wendy Legacki, and Club organizers Jasmin Vargas and Aisha Farley.


In southern Nevada, the Sierra Club has been working closely with the Moapa tribe to shine a spotlight on the health hazards associated with the Reid Gardner plant and build public support for the Moapa's planned 350-megawatt solar array.


"We've done numerous events with the tribe in the last year," says Las Vegas-based Sierra Club organizer Elspeth Cordua, above at left. "Two of the biggest were a three-day Cultural Healing Walk from the Reid Gardner plant to Las Vegas in May, and a rally outside the Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas in August, both of which we organized with the Moapa tribe. After the August rally, Senator Reid made his first public statement in opposition to the coal plant and has continued to support moving beyond coal." Below, Cultural Healing Walk marchers approach the federal building in Las Vegas.


At the December 6 signing ceremony in Los Angeles, Villaraigosa also signed a second agreement to purchase solar power from a planned solar array in Kern County, California, and committed to procure energy from rooftop installations in Los Angeles through a "Feed-in-Tariff" program that offers long-term contracts to renewable energy producers. After the signing ceremony, Senator Reid has this to say.


The three projects will provide enough green energy to serve more than 330,000 Los Angeles households, and represent a major step in the city's goal to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2016 and 33 percent by 2020.

"This is a defining moment for our city's economic and environmental future," said Villaraigosa. "Not only will these commitments create hundreds of green jobs, they will further bolster Los Angeles as a national leader in making the successful, cost-efficient transition to renewable energy. We are shaking our fossil fuel addiction."


Above, L.A. Department of Water & Power President Thomas Sayles, Sierra Club organizer Aura Vasquez, Jasmin Vargas, Moapa Paiute Chairman William Anderson, Villaragosa, Aisha Farley, Allison Chin, Sierra Club My Generation campaign volunteer Michael Saramiento, and Wendy Legacky.


"Over the past year, it's been inspiring to watch Los Angeles emerge as a catalyst for clean energy change in the Southwest," said Mary Anne Hitt, at left. "The city has been getting nearly 40 percent of its power from two aging out-of-state coal plants—the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona and the Intermountain Power Project in Utah. The Moapa solar project is one of two long-term solar purchasing agreements that—along with the CLEAN LA Feed-in-Tariff solar program—are designed to put Los Angeles on a firm path to replace its use of coal with clean energy alternatives."

Learn more about the Sierra Club's work to move America beyond coal.


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