First Solar lands power contract for Macho Springs solar unit

First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) said June 5 that it has lined up a long-term 50-MW power purchase agreement (PPA) with El Paso Electric (NYSE: EE) for output from its proposed Macho Springs facility in Luna County, N.M.

First Solar has submitted its final development plan that provides a site plan and specific mitigation plans and strategies, and is obtaining various construction permits. Once approved, construction is expected to begin in July.

First Solar purchased the rights to Macho Springs from Element Power in January. Some New Mexico headline writers have dubbed it “Macho solar.” Earlier this spring, First Solar announced it had sold the rights to its 139-MW Campo Verde solar project in California.

El Paso Electric will buy the entire output power from the Macho Springs solar project. El Paso held an all-source competitive request for proposal in 2011. The project will operate on a commercial lease from the State Land Office on about 500 acres of land at Macho Springs, near Deming. First Solar also has an interconnection agreement with El Paso Electric.

Officials from First Solar and New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell announced that the solar developer had been granted a PPA through the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

Powell said the contract will provide about 300 jobs during construction. The lease payments could generate as much as $40m for state land trust beneficiaries over the 40-year term of the lease.

The proposed Macho Springs solar power plant will generate enough energy to power more than 18,000 average New Mexico homes, which use about 669 kilowatt hours of electricity per month.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.