Federal officials plan to approve a massive solar farm with energy storage in the desert outside Las Vegas, paving the way for a $1 billion project that will provide electricity to Nevada residents served by Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett's NV Energy.
At 690 megawatts across 7,100 acres, the facility would generate more power than the largest solar farm now operating in the United States, a 579-megawatt plant in Southern California. The energy storage component - at least 380 megawatts of four-hour lithium-ion batteries, capable of storing solar power for use after dark - also would be one of the largest facilities of its kind.
The Gemini project will be on federal lands, and thus requires signoff from the Interior Department. The department's Bureau of Land Management released a final environmental impact statement Monday, in which federal officials indicated they will approve the project after one last round of public comments.
President Donald Trump has rejected mainstream climate science, attempted to roll back dozens of regulations crimping the fossil fuel industry and routinely criticized renewable energy. In March he called solar power "very, very expensive" despite the fact that it's now the cheapest electricity source across much of the United States.
But Trump's appointees at the Interior Department have shepherded several large renewable energy projects across the finish line. Gemini could be the third solar farm on public lands approved by federal officials since Trump took office. The others are in Wyoming and California.
Falling prices and supportive state policies have continued to drive demand for renewable energy, even with the Trump administration taxing imported solar panels and rejecting a proposed extension for clean energy tax credits.
The Omaha World-Herald is owned by Berkshire Hathaway.