New Mexico's largest plant online

Partners Southern Company and Turner Renewable Energy have brought the 50MW Macho Springs solar PV project into commercial operation in southwestern New Mexico.

Macho Springs is the sun-drenched state’s largest operational solar facility.

All electricity will be sold under a 20-year contract to El Paso Electric, a publicly-owned utility that serves both west Texas and southern New Mexico.

Macho Springs was built and will be operated by First Solar, which utilizes its thin-film modules. It will generate power for about 18,000 homes.

"With over 300 days of sunshine every year, we are in the perfect region for solar energy technologies, which in the long run reduces carbon emissions and provides cleaner air," says El Paso Electric chief executive Tom Shockley.

The utility expects that solar will represent six percent of its electricity generation by the end of this year. In February, it signed a 30-year agreement to purchase all power from a 10MW solar PV plant being built near El Paso by a subsidiary of Colorado-based juwi Solar.