Las Vegas, Nevada [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] With the backdrop of the PowerGen Renewable Energy trade show taking place last week in Las Vegas, a major solar energy project was announced for the desert oasis.The Las Vegas Valley Water District and Nevada Power Company jointly announced the approval of contracts with California-based PowerLight Corporation to proceed with a 3.1 MW solar power project. On February 23rd, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved the project which consists of four solar electric systems at the Water District’s Las Vegas Springs Preserve, and three systems located at reservoir sites within the water distribution system. In addition to producing clean, renewable power over the next 30 years, the solar arrays at the Springs Preserve will provide shaded parking for up to 200 cars. The solar project, which uses no water and is emissions-free, is expected to become operational in 2005. “The District’s mission is to provide reliable, quality water and to ensure the sustainability of our desert community,” said Pat Mulroy, the District’s General Manager. “This project is part of our continuing commitment to serve our customers and protect our environment. It will provide visitors to the Springs Preserve with a direct experience with clean power generation.” Nevada’s own Senator Harry Reid, the current Democratic minority leader in Congress and a particularly strong advocate for renewable energy was pleased to see such a large solar project in his own state. “Many people in Nevada have worked for the past five years to craft what are the best renewable energy laws in the United States,” said Nevada Senator Harry Reid. “I salute this landmark solar project, the people who helped make it possible and the great collaboration it represents between the Las Vegas Valley Water District and Nevada Power.” Those energy laws helped make this large solar project a reality. The District’s project was competitively selected by Nevada Power, as part of its 2003 Renewable Energy Request for Proposals, on the basis of a large number of factors including cost and the experience of the team, according to Roberto Denis, Senior Vice President, Generation and Energy Supply for the company. “Nevada is a state rich in sunshine. When Nevada enacted this legislation in 2001, it was our hope that we would begin to intelligently use our most abundant resource”, said Jon Wellinghof, Nevada energy attorney who drafted the Renewable Energy Legislation. Over their thirty-year operating life, the solar electric systems will generate clean electricity and save the equivalent of 5.8 million barrels of oil. By avoiding hundreds of tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the project is the equivalent of planting 1,320 acres of trees or not driving over 350 million miles.