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NM Land Office: Plenty of land for Tesla plant

mesaNew Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell has three words for Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk as he contemplates where to build his massive battery factory – “state trust lands.”

And those would include Mesa del Sol, the Albuquerque-based, mixed-use community that still has 9,000 acres of land available for development.

“We are actively recruiting appropriate businesses and we would welcome Tesla looking at state trust lands,” Powell said in news release. “There are about 9 million acres of trust land throughout the state that could be ripe with economic development potential.”

Powell became the latest public official to address the Palo Alto, Calif.-based electric car manufacturer, now that it has identified Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas as finalists for its $5 billion “gigafactory,” which is expected to employ as many as 6,500 workers.


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Earlier this week, the state’s congressional delegation released a letter it sent to Musk, touting the state’s attributes and inviting him to visit as their guest to “show you all that the Land of Enchantment has to offer in person.”

Powell said he chose to speak up because Tesla’s plans for its battery factory are consistent with the State Land Office’s history of pursuing economic development partnerships “centered on sustainability, clean and renewable energy.”

“I’m weighing in as a statewide elected official with a resource that is unique to the western United States,” Powell told the Journal. “Hopefully, that’s helpful to the people in the trenches.”

Specifically, Powell cited the State Land Office’s role in forging economic development partnerships in New Mexico, including:

♦ Innovation Park at Mesa del Sol, a master-planned community that he said is home to 2,500 jobs and would serve as a “welcoming home (to) great customers like Tesla.” The 12,900-acre park currently houses Albuquerque Studios, Fidelity Investments and a Molina Healthcare data center, among others.

♦ More than 11,000 acres of state trust land in and around Las Cruces, including West Mesa Industrial Park. Located eight miles west of downtown, the park is home to 17 businesses that employ more than 750 workers.

♦ A 1,400-acre business park in Lea County that is home to Joule, a Massachusetts-based company that operates a renewable-energy facility in Hobbs.

Tesla has said it will require between 500 and 1,000 acres to build its 10-million-square-foot facility.

“There’s a rich portfolio to choose from,” Powell said of state trust lands. “But I want to be supportive of any community in New Mexico that has a chance to attract 6,500 jobs.”