Colorado Man Admits to Causing Destruction of Nevada Solar Panel System

Mohammed Mesmarian, a 35-year-old former dentist from Colorado, pleaded guilty last week in a Las Vegas court for driving his car through a fence at a solar power facility and causing a fire. He entered guilty pleas to two reduced charges: second-degree arson and malicious destruction of property. This comes after Mesmarian was originally charged with committing an act of terrorism, arson, destroying or injuring real or personal property of another, and escape by a felony prisoner for the incident that occurred on January 3.

Mesmarian claims to be suffering from emotional illness, and it was reported that he was ruled emotionally unfit for trial earlier this year by Clark County District Court Judge Christy Craig. Two psychiatrists examined Mesmarian before the ruling was made and he was sent to a Nevada forensic psychiatric institution. He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 18, with the possibility of being given probation or sent to prison. The judge could also order that he receive treatment for his mental health issues.

During his initial court appearance, Mesmarian had an outburst, claiming that “there’s so much wrong in the whole system” and made racially insensitive remarks about the other individuals in the courtroom.

The complex where the incident took place is the Mega Solar Array facility, which is located on US 93, north of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The array is in the desert, some 25 miles from Las Vegas and is operated by Chicago-based Invenergy. This facility provides power to 13 MGM Resorts properties and is a key component of the gaming company’s long-term climate strategy. It delivers 100 megawatts of power captured by 336K panels installed on 640 acres. Mesmarian’s actions damaged a transformer and other infrastructure at the facility, causing power to be knocked out for weeks until repairs were made. During that time, MGM Resorts properties were able to find alternative sources of energy by turning to the grid.