Atlanta, January 24, 2011 — The clean and plentiful sunshine of New Mexico is now producing electricity for some 9,000 homes as the Cimarron Solar Facility has begun commercial operation.
At 30 MW, Cimarron is among the nation's largest solar photovoltaic plants.
The facility is the first resulting from the partnership between Southern Co. and Ted Turner and will supply power to the member electric cooperatives of Denver-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.
Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar, Inc., developed and constructed the facility and will provide operation and maintenance services under a long-term contract.
New Mexico, with its abundant solar resources, was an ideal location to establish the company's first commercial-scale solar operation.
The 364-acre plant site is located within the service territory of Tri-State member system Springer Electric Cooperative in Colfax County, N.M., and is adjacent to Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch.
Southern Co. and Turner Renewable Energy acquired the project from First Solar in March 2010. Turner Renewable Energy is a unit of Turner Enterprises with a focus on development of commercial-scale solar projects.
Initially expected to go on line by the end of 2010, the facility was completed in eight months and began commercial operation in early December, nearly a month ahead of schedule.
More than 300 workers were employed to construct the plant, which uses about 500,000 2'x 4' advanced thin film photovoltaic modules manufactured by First Solar.
Electricity generated by the plant will serve a 25-year power purchase agreement with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a not-for-profit wholesale power supplier to 44 electric cooperatives serving 1.5 million consumers across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.
The project further expands Tri-State's focus on providing renewable generation for its members, as the association also announced late last year that its Kit Carson Windpower Project began commercial operation in eastern Colorado.