50 Megawatt Solar Project In New Mexico

ground-mounted solar power system
SunEdison has extensive experience with large-scale solar installations.

SunEdison and Xcel Energy’s regional operating company, Southwestern Public Service Company, are cooperating on five photovoltaic solar installations in New Mexico that will total 50 megawatts in generation capacity. The five 10MW sites, to be located in Lea and Eddy counties in southeastern New Mexico, will comprise a utility-scale, ground-mount system that will be fully operational by the end of 2011. In total, the installations will generate enough power for more than 10,000 homes in its first full year of operation.

This total project will enable Xcel Energy to continue meeting New Mexico’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires that regulated electric utilities meet 15 percent of their electricity needs by 2015, and 20 percent by 2020, through renewable energy sources.

The five installations will be built, financed, and maintained by SunEdison, under a 20-year solar power services agreement with Xcel Energy, which will buy the solar power generated by the plant.

“We are thrilled to begin harvesting New Mexico’s rich solar resources, and we are equally proud to add this project to our growing base of wind energy, as we diversify our renewable energy portfolio,” said Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Company. “We are also pleased to be working with SunEdison, a leader in solar development with the experience and financial strength to ensure a smooth project completion.”

This project eclipses the 8.22MW (DC) solar power system SunEdison activated for Xcel Energy in Alamosa, Colorado in December 2007. At 50MW, the Xcel Energy project will be one of the largest in North America.

Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson said the project reflects New Mexico’s sustained commitment to solar energy leadership. “Excellent natural resources, competitive incentives and pro business policies have positioned New Mexico at the forefront of the clean energy economy, and our commitment continues to generate economic development and well-paying jobs throughout the state,” Governor Richardson said.

New Mexico State Senator, Carroll Leavell commented, “I am most appreciative of SunEdison and Xcel Energy for working together for a renewable energy source that will serve southeastern New Mexico and West Texas. This will be of benefit not only as an additional source of energy but also as economic development for Lea and Eddy Counties.”

Lisa Hardison, interim president of the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County, said, “Thanks to Xcel Energy, our vision to brand and market Lea County as the EnergyPlex is becoming more and more a reality. Xcel Energy’s infrastructure and commitment to the Renewable Portfolio Standard – energy development, overall – are critical to our efforts. With SunEdison in the EnergyPlex now, we have the nation’s most significant energy players across the petroleum, nuclear and renewables industries developing their projects right here.”

Carlos Domenech, President of SunEdison and Executive Vice President of MEMC, noted, “Xcel Energy is a visionary electric utility. The company understands how to make utility-scale renewable energy a reality. Their vision enabled by the local and state leadership will facilitate the creation of green jobs in New Mexico”. Domenech continues, “SunEdison welcomes the opportunity to bring its proven track record in utility-scale solar, financial strength and the most cost-effective technologies to address Xcel Energy’s needs.”

Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company with regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. Company headquarters is located in Minneapolis.

MEMC is a global leader in the manufacture and sale of wafers and related intermediate products to the semiconductor and solar industries. MEMC has been a pioneer in the design and development of wafer technologies over the past 50 years. With R&D and manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, MEMC enables the next generation of high performance semiconductor devices and solar cells. With the acquisition of SunEdison, MEMC is now a developer of solar power projects and North America’s largest solar energy services provider.

SunEdison is North America’s largest solar energy services provider. The company finances, installs, and operates distributed power plants using proven photovoltaic technologies, delivering fully managed, predictably priced solar energy services for its commercial, government, and utility customers. In 2008, SunEdison delivered more kilowatt hours of energy than any other solar services provider in North America.

Read Large-Scale Solar Power Systems: Construction and Economics from Amazon.