Largest Solar Plant in the U.S. Slated for Construction in New Mexico

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Photo Courtesy J.N. Stuart
Like this Nevada plant, the solar plant in New Mexico will be built in the desert. It will occupy about 250 acres of land.

New Mexico is about to become home to one of the world’s largest solar plants.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Colorado’s second leading supplier of electricity, and Arizona-based First Solar have teamed up to build the plant. The “Cimarron | Solar Project,” the largest solar project taken on by an electric cooperative, is expected to produce 30 megawatts – enough electricity to power 9,000 homes.

The solar field will contain 500,000 2 feet-by-4 feet photovoltaic modules, constructed by First Solar, that feature the company’s patented thin film semiconductor technology.

Construction is expected to begin April 2010, with at least part of the system producing energy by August 2010. Construction of this plant will create about 120 to 140 temporary jobs. The plant will occupy 250 acres of desert between Spring and Cimarron, New Mexico.

Tri-State, which provides electricity to more than 1.4 million people in Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska and Wyoming, is a newbie to the world of solar energy – but not to renewable energy. About 13 percent of Tri-State’s power comes from hydroelectric facilities operated by the federal government. It also buys a small amount of energy from a wind farm in Wyoming.

Tri-State has agreed to purchase electricity from the plant for 25 years.

More about solar power

• Nationwide program One Block Off the Grid organizes homeowners and works with solar installers to get reduced group rates for solar panels for neighborhoods. Find out how to get your city involved.

• Want more information on solar energy for your home? Check out Natural Home‘s guide to alternative energy.

• Solar and wind power light up the Times Square billboard.

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