Renewable Energy, Solar

Ground broken at 50 MW Macho Springs solar energy project

El Paso Electric Power, The New Mexico State Land Office and First Solar Inc. began construction on the Macho Springs Solar Project in Luna County, New Mexico.

While in the construction phase, the Macho Springs Solar Project will provide about 300 jobs. Construction is expected to be completed by May of 2014, and the active power plant will include three operational and maintenance jobs.

Under a 20-year power purchase agreement between El Paso Electric and First Solar, the 50 MW 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 carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 7,500 cars off the road, and will displace more than 340,000 metric tons of water consumption annually.

The project represents a system resource for El Paso Electric Co. 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.

El Paso Electric secured this project 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 a transmission interconnection agreement with El Paso Electric.