Ground preparation work recently started on a $16 million project to build Sandoval County’s first solar energy plant.
Public Service Company of New Mexico’s 6.1-megawatt Sandoval County Solar Energy Center is one of two solar energy facilities the company has embarked on. The other is a 9.1-megawatt plant in the Meadowlake area of Valencia County, about 10 miles east of Los Lunas.
The 80-acre site in Sandoval County is northwest of the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Encino Road, in a sparsely populated area about seven miles west of the Rio Rancho city limits.
The facility will have 82,350 pedestal-mounted solar photovoltaic panels capable of generating the energy used by 2,400 average residential customers. The panels will be equipped with mechanisms that allow them to track the sun as it travels across the sky, PNM spokeswoman Susan Sponar told the Journal.
She said work to install the pedestals and panels is expected to begin in early fall. PNM expects construction will create about 100 temporary jobs at the site. Completion is expected by the end of the year.
Sandoval County commissioners in February approved a zoning amendment that allowed PNM to move ahead with the project. The solar center is expected to produce an estimated $152,000 in new tax revenue for the county next year.