The wholesale electricity supplier for La Plata County has signed a contract to purchase the output from the largest-ever photovoltaic project by an electric cooperative. It is scheduled to be built near Cimarron, N.M., in 2010.The Cimarron I Solar Project is a 30-megawatt, 500,000-panel solar photovoltaic system, said a statement Tuesday from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Tri-State signed an agreement with Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar Inc. to develop the project, which is located about halfway between Taos and Raton in northeast New Mexico.
"Tri-State is committed to renewable energy in our resource planning that brings value to our member cooperatives across the four states that we serve," Tri-State general manager and executive vice president Ken Anderson said. "It's noteworthy that Tri-State's first utility-scale renewable-energy project will be among the largest photovoltaic projects in the world."
Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2010, with the first phase of the system producing energy in August. Construction will employ an estimated 120 to 140 workers. The system is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2010.
The project is located on 250 acres in Colfax County in the service territory of Springer Electric Cooperative, one of Tri-State's 12 New Mexico members.
The array of 2-foot-by-4-foot solar panels using First Solar's patented thin-film technology will produce enough power to serve the equivalent of 9,000 homes. Tri-State has contracted to purchase the electricity produced for 25 years.