El Paso Electric Company (EPE) will be coal-free by 2016 and, in less than one year, has doubled its utility-scale solar portfolio — positioning it well to meet new carbon standards proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
El Paso Electric is anticipating the completion and commercial operation of 50 MW Macho Springs, which began construction in July 2013 and will be the largest solar facility in New Mexico. An additional solar facility (10 MW completed by the end of the year) will expand total solar generation to 6 percent of EPE’s dedicated generation resources.
“Our west Texas and 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,” said Tom Shockley, CEO, El Paso Electric. “With over 300 days of sunshine every year, we are in the perfect region for solar energy technologies, which in the long run reduces carbon emissions and provides cleaner air.”
Located on 597 acres, the size of 300 football fields, the facility in Luna County, New Mexico, will displace more than 40,000 metric tons of CO2 and more than 340,000 metric tons of water consumption annually in southern New Mexico and west Texas.
“We continue to look for opportunities to add cost-effective solar energy technologies as the price of solar energy becomes more competitive,” said Shockley. “At the time we signed our agreement with Macho Springs, it was the cheapest price of solar in the market.”
EPE has signed a 20-year purchase power agreement (PPA) with Macho Springs Solar, LLC, owned by Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy. In addition, El Paso Electric has signed a 30-year PPA with Newman Solar LLC, which will build the 10 MW solar energy facility in Northeast El Paso.