The largest solar installation in New Mexico was dedicated last week. It is a joint venture between NextEra Energy Resources and Xcel Energy. The 600,000 solar panel facility is so large that it covers parts of Roswell and Chaves counties. In fact, it is known as the Roswell and Chaves County Solar Energy Centers. The solar panels are mounted to tracking devices that follow the sun during the day to maximize the amount of solar energy created. Tracking equipment increases power production by about 10% over traditional fixed panels.

“Solar energy creates solid, high-paying jobs and produces millions of dollars in payments over the life of the project to landowners and local government that directly benefit schools, roads and essential services,” said Mike O’Sullivan, senior vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources, which developed and built the projects and will own and operate them. “These projects are something we can all be proud of – an investment in the community that will help sustain Chaves County economically and provide clean, renewable energy for generations to come.”

The new solar facility has a total capacity of 140 megawatts — enough to power 40,000 homes. Pursuant to two power purchase agreements approved by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, the energy from the new power plant will serve customers of Xcel Energy in New Mexico and Texas.

“Our customers have told us they want more affordable, renewable energy, generated by the state’s own sunshine, and these projects are an excellent demonstration of how we are delivering on that commitment for our customers,” said David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy New Mexico and Texas. “Additionally, this is an opportunity for Xcel Energy to diversify our energy production resource mix in an economical manner.”

The solar power generated by the new facility will keep about 240,000 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year compared to fossil fueled generating plant. That’s an important point at this moment in time in which one of the candidates for president has promised to boost the use of coal to power America. Donald Trump said last night that the US has enough coal to last 1,000 years. What he didn’t say is that everyone in the world will be dead if all that coal is burned, but The Donald would say, “It’s called business.”

“New Mexico, and Chaves County in particular, is fortunate to have one of the best solar resources in the country,” said Robert Corn, chairman of the Chaves County Commission. “These projects are proof of what we can do when we work together to help develop renewable energy, protecting the environment and creating good jobs and economic growth for our community and our state.”