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NM’s largest solar plant now online

rightsolarALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — El Paso Electric announced the completion and the start of commercial operations this week of its 50-megawatt Macho Springs project, the largest solar power plant in New Mexico.

It will generate enough energy to power more than 18,000 homes.

Built on 600 acres of state trust land between Deming and Hatch in Luna County, it is jointly owned by Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power and by Turner Renewable Energy. EPE has a 20-year power purchase agreement with the plant.

“Our … southern New Mexico region has the right kind of sun for optimal solar-energy production, making this region the ‘Goldilocks’ in terms of climate, humidity and heat characteristics that allow us to expand our renewable portfolio with cost-effective technologies and reliable energy resources,” EPE CEO Tom Shockley said in a news release. “With over 300 days of sunshine every year, we are in the perfect region for solar-energy technologies, which in the long run reduce carbon emissions and provide cleaner air.”

State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, who visited the plant this week, said the “lease payments could generate as much as $10 million for our school kids over the 40-year term of the lease.”

Construction on the project started in July 2013, and it began operation in May of this year.

The plant was built and will be operated by First Solar.