LAS CRUCES– New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell signed an agreement with New Mexico State University (NMSU) to share critical information about the species of plants and animals on state trust land as well as any changes in habitat, specifically in the Nutt Grasslands where the state’s largest solar array at Macho Springs is currently under construction in Luna County.
The State Land Office will incorporate the information collected into databases for the Asset Inventory Program. The MOU became effective upon signing.
Ground was broken by First Solar, Inc.on July 1 to clear the way for construction on the state’s largest solar power plant. The Macho Springs solar power project will operate on a commercial lease from the State Land Office on more than 400 acres of land at Macho Springs, near Deming. The lease could generate as much as $11.8 million for state land trust beneficiaries over the 40-year term of the lease.
The project will provide clean, efficient solar power for use by New Mexicans and will provide benefits to the local and regional economy, include millions of dollars in direct and indirect economic benefits, and about 300 temporary construction jobs, while earning money for trust beneficiaries.
First Solar, Inc. will provide El Paso Electric Power with about 50 megawatts of solar energy for 20 years. First Solar also has an interconnection agreement with El Paso Electric Power.
The solar array will realize immediate and very significant water savings over gas-fired or coal-fired generating plants and will also have zero air emmisions. The Macho Springs solar power plant will generate enough clean energy to power more than 18,000 average New Mexico homes, which use about 669 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. The project will displace more than 40,000 metric tons of CO, the equivalent of taking 7,500 cars off the road and will displace water consumption annually (more than 340,000 metric tons).
Construction is expected to be completed in May of 2014.