Apple to build solar plant to power data center

RENO, Nev. — Apple Inc. said it will pay for construction of an 18-megawatt photovoltaic solar plant in northern Nevada to provide power for a data center the technology giant plans east of Reno.

The Fort Churchill Solar Array, to be built in Yerington, was included in a filing Monday by NV Energy Inc. with the Public Utilities Commission.

Apple announced plans last year to build the data center. The solar generating plant would be located in Lyon County, south of that facility. The solar plant proposal must be approved by state regulators, a process that could take several months.

In a statement, Apple said the solar project would provide renewable energy for the data center and add clean energy to the power grid.

“All of Apple’s data centers use 100 percent renewable energy and we are on track to meet that goal in our new Reno data center using the latest in high-efficiency concentrating solar panels,” the company said.

Once completed, the 137-acre solar array would generate about 43.5 million kilowatt hours of renewable power. The amount of fossil fuel saved by going solar would be equivalent to taking 6,400 vehicles off the road each year, company officials said.

The proposal is the first under a new program that allows electricity customers to buy more renewable energy than required under state portfolio standards.

“We’re excited to be in partnership with Apple on a new solar energy project, the first project under our new Green Energy Program,” NV Energy president and CEO Michael Yackira said in a statement.

Gov. Brian Sandoval hailed the project and the hundreds of jobs it will bring to Lyon County, which has the highest unemployment rate in the state.

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