Tri-State signs for 25 MW from solar project in New Mexico

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments LLC (DESRI) on Oct. 12 announced the execution of a 25-year contract to supply the utility with renewable energy from the planned Alta Luna Solar Project, to be constructed in Luna County in southwest New Mexico.

Tri-State will purchase the entire output of the 25-MW solar farm over the life of the contract. The facility is expected to come online in December 2016 and will receive electric service from Columbus Electric Cooperative, a Tri-State member system serving approximately 3,000 members and over 6,800 meters from its headquarters in Deming, N.M.

“Alta Luna Solar is the third utility-scale renewable energy project we’ve announced this year and further demonstrates how Tri-State and its members are committed to a diverse yet cost-effective generation fleet,” said Brad Nebergall, Tri-State’s senior vice president of energy management. “As with the other projects, Alta Luna represents a collaborative effort to find solutions to the various challenges that new generation presents – from siting and engineering to transmission access and financing. We are very thankful to our partners for their cooperation and shared vision in this effort.”

Chris Martinez, executive vice president and general manager of Columbus Electric Cooperative, said: “The addition of Alta Luna Solar allows cooperative member-owners to harness a vital New Mexicoresource – the sun – for generating affordable, renewable power for the communities in this part of the state. We are pleased to be contributing to this important initiative.”

The Alta Luna Solar Project is expected to consist of a single-axis tracking array of over 108,000 photovoltaic solar panels located on a 220-acre site in Luna County, approximately 25 miles northeast of Deming. The project was developed by TurningPoint Energy, a Denver-based energy developer, and subsequently sold to an affiliate of DESRI in partnership with Bright Plain Renewable Energy LLC, a San Francisco-based solar project developer, investor and operator.

“Alta Luna Solar was a very complex solar project that came together due to innovation, collaboration and leadership of our collective team, including Tri-State, Columbus Electric, Luna County, Bright Plain Renewable Energy, D.E. Shaw and my co-development partners at Solar Prime,” said Jared Schoch, principal and founder of TurningPoint Energy.

“We are pleased to be working with Tri-State and our other valued partners to provide renewable energy services to the residents of New Mexico,” said Bryan Martin, a managing director and head of U.S. Private Equity for the D. E. Shaw group.

The Alta Luna Solar Project is Tri-State’s second utility-scale solar photovoltaic power purchase agreement in New Mexico and the third in its system overall. In 2010 the utility began receiving power from the 30-MW Cimarron Solar facility located in Colfax County, N.M., and last month Tri-State announced an agreement to purchase power from the 30-MW San Isabel Solar Project to be constructed in southern Colorado. In 2014, 24% of the energy Tri-State and its member systems delivered to cooperative members was generated from renewable resources – one of the top ratios among electric utilities nationwide.

Based in the Denver suburb of Westminster, Tri-State is the wholesale power supplier to 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts serving approximately 1.5 million consumers throughout a 200,000 square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Columbus Electric Cooperative is a non-profit, consumer-owned electric system established to provide electric service to rural southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.

TurningPoint Energy is a clean energy advisory, development and investment company headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Its principals have experience developing solar projects totaling more than $1.7 billion in value over 500 MW of operating solar power plants throughout the United States within the last eight years.

DESRI and its affiliates acquire long-term contracted renewable energy assets in North America. DESRI is a member of the D. E. Shaw group, a global investment and technology development firm with approximately $37 billion in investment capital as of July 1, 2015, and offices in North America, Europe, and Asia.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.