Big New Mexico PV Project Nears Completion

Xcel Energy and Wells Fargo have announced the completion of three solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants near Carlsbad, N.M. The sites are the first three phases of a project that will ultimately consist of five solar plants with a total capacity of 53.5 megawatts (MW).

Once completed, the New Mexico project is expected to be among the largest PV projects in the country, generating more than 1.9 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity over 20 years – enough to power more than 186,000 average U.S. homes for one year. The remaining two phases of the project are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

sunedisonPV

image via SunEdison

The plants will be maintained by SunEdison, a developer, installer and operator solar power plants with more than 160 MW around the world.  Electricity from the solar farms will be sold to Southwestern Public Service, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). Xcel Energy will use the environmental attributes of the project to continue to meet New Mexico’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires electric utilities to meet 15 percent of their electricity needs with renewable resources by 2015, and 20 percent by 2020.

Wells Fargo is providing more than $200 million to finance the projects. The company said it has invested approximately $2.2 billion in renewable energy projects since 2006, including funding for 35 wind projects and over 220 solar projects in 26 states. This project represents the company’s largest renewable energy construction loan to date.

“Wells Fargo is committed to helping cleantech businesses and will continue to expand our support of projects and companies, such as SunEdison, that are leaders in building a clean energy economy,” said Puon Penn, head of Wells Fargo’s National Cleantech group.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).