First Solar to develop a 50 MW solar plant in New Mexico

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The New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission granted the PPA (power purchase agreement) for the development of the solar power plant which will be located on State Trust Land in Luna County near the Mexican border.

The solar plant is slated to be the largest one in the state of New Mexico and will provide about 300 jobs during the construction phase according to New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell. This project is seen as a way to revive New Mexico’s ailing construction indutry and provide a constant stream of revenue for our public schools, universities and hospitals. Powell added, "This project will provide clean, efficient solar power to El Paso Electric service territory customers, and the lease payments could generate as much as $40 million for state land trust beneficiaries over the 40-year term of the lease."

First Solar has already submitted its final development plan with a site plan and specific mitigation plans and strategies, and is in the process of obtaining various construction permits. Once approved, construction is expected to begin in July.

The proposed Macho Springs power plant will generate enough solar energy to power more than 18,000 average New Mexico homes, which use about 669 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. The generated electricity will be purchased by El Paso Electric Company via the PPA with First Solar. This project was secured by El Paso Electric through an all-source competitive Request for Proposal process conducted in 2011. It 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.

Things have been moving positively for the Arizona-based First Solar. The company announced a profitable first quarter this year after moving towards project development and integration, as opposed to only modules manufacture.