Electricity for as many as 9,000 Western homes will now come directly from the sun, thanks to the 30 megawatt (MW) capacity Cimarron Solar Project in Colfax County, New Mexico. The project, which recently came online, is the first of many we’re likely to see from Southern Company and entertainment mogul Ted Turner.
The 364-acre plant site is located within the service territory of Springer Electric Cooperative (adjacent to Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch) and will supply power to the member electric cooperatives of Denver-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, of which Springer is a part. Tri-State is a non-profit wholesale power supplier to Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.
Initially expected to go on line by the end of last year, 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 approximately 500,000 2’x 4′ advanced thin film photovoltaic modules.
First Solar developed and constructed the facility–which employs the company’s thin film solar panels–and originally owned the project, before it was acquired by Southern Company and Ted Turner Renewables. First Solar will stay on-hand to provide operation and maintenance services for the plant under a long-term contract.