El Paso Electric Power (NYSE: EE), The New Mexico State Land Office and First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) announced today that construction has commenced on what will be the state's largest solar power plant, located on State Trust Land near Deming in Luna County.
While in the construction phase, the Macho Springs Solar Project will provide approximately 300 jobs. Construction is expected to be completed by May of 2014, and the active power plant will include three operational and maintenance jobs.
"This is a milestone for not only El Paso Electric, but our customers and this region," said Tom Shockley, El Paso Electric Chief Executive Officer. "We look forward to the continued growth of this technology in a cost effective manner."
"This solar power project will provide clean, efficient solar power for use by New Mexicans," said New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell. "Also, it benefits the local and regional economy include millions of dollars in direct and indirect economic benefits, and about 300 temporary construction jobs, while at the same time earning money for our public schools, universities, special schools, and hospitals."
Under a 20-year power purchase agreement between El Paso Electric and First Solar, the 50MWac project will generate enough clean energy to power more than 18,000 average customer homes in the El Paso Electric service territory. The project will displace more than 40,000 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of taking 7,500 cars off the road, and will displace more than 340,000 metric tons of water consumption annually.
"First Solar values the support and leadership provided by El Paso Electric and the New Mexico State Land Office for this project," said Michael Hatfield, First Solar Director of Project Development. "The Macho Springs Solar Plant will be an exciting addition to the region's renewable energy resources."
The project represents a system resource for El Paso Electric Company as the Company will purchase the entire output power from the Macho Springs solar power project to serve its New Mexico and Texas service territory. This project was secured by El Paso Electric through an all-source competitive Request for Proposal process conducted in 2011. The project will operate on a commercial lease from the State Land Office on about 500 acres of land at Macho Springs, near Deming. First Solar also has an interconnection agreement with El Paso Electric.