Solar Today Summer 2016 : Page 14
leasing the land for the solar array to First Solar. As the project owner, technol-ogy provider, and construction contractor, First Solar is in turn procuring services from the tribe during construction, including gravel, recycling, and food services. A tribal hiring preference the tribe negotiated ensured that Native Americans made up 25% of the construction labor force, and nearly 40 of those employees were tribal members. “Every Moapa who wants a job on the site has one,” said Greg Anderson, vice chairman of the Moapa Paiutes. In addition, seven long-term operations and maintenance jobs will be filled by Native workers, and First Solar has already trained two Moapa Paiutes who are slated for those positions. As First Solar’s initial foray into tribal project development, the Moapa project is a win-win on a variety of levels, according to Laura Abram, director of public affairs for First Solar. “The success of the Moapa Southern Paiute Project demon-strates the value of … bringing diverse economic and job opportunities to Native American tribes while providing the land and services solar developers need to meet their customers’ growing demand for clean, affordable solar energy,” she said. With 780 MW of tribal projects in various stages of development, First Solar is actively pursuing opportunities to collaborate with tribes to develop other utility-scale projects on tribal lands, Abram said. Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians For tribes with robust resource potential that desire a greater ownership role in their projects, another option is to contract with an experienced consulting firm to represent the tribe’s interests on all phases of energy project development, from feasibility and planning through financing and construction. That was the route the Southern California-based Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians took when it hired Optimum Group to assist with land use master 14 SUMMER 2016 SOLAR TODAY Copyright © 2014 American Solar Energy Society. All rights reserved.