Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., a wholesale power supplier owned by 44 member electric cooperatives and public power districts, and D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments, L.L.C. (DESRI), have announced the execution of a 25-year contract to supply the utility with renewable energy from the planned Alta Luna Solar Project to be constructed in Luna County in southwest New Mexico.
Tri-State will purchase the entire output of the 25-megawatt (MW) solar farm over the life of the contract. The facility is expected to come online in December 2016 and will receive electric service from Columbus Electric, a Tri-State member system serving approximately 3,000 members and over 6,800 meters from its headquarters in Deming, N.M.
Brad Nebergall, Tri-State's senior vice president of energy management, said:
"Alta Luna Solar is the third utility-scale renewable energy project we've announced this year and further demonstrates how Tri-State and its members are committed to a diverse yet cost-effective generation fleet. As with the other projects, Alta Luna represents a collaborative effort to find solutions to the various challenges that new generation presents – from siting and engineering to transmission access and financing. We are very thankful to our partners for their cooperation and shared vision in this effort."
Chris Martinez, executive vice president & general manager of Columbus Electric Cooperative, noted that the project is a point of pride for southwest New Mexico:
"The addition of Alta Luna Solar allows cooperative member-owners to harness a vital New Mexicoresource – the sun – for generating affordable, renewable power for the communities in this part of the state. We are pleased to be contributing to this important initiative."
The Alta Luna Solar Project is expected to consist of a single-axis tracking array of over 108,000 photovoltaic solar panels located on a 220-acre site in Luna County, approximately 25 miles northeast of Deming. The project was developed by TurningPoint Energy, a Denver-based energy developer, and subsequently sold to an affiliate of DESRI in partnership with Bright Plain Renewable Energy, LLC, a San Francisco based solar project developer, investor and operator.
The Alta Luna Solar Project is Tri-State's second utility-scale solar photovoltaic power purchase agreement in New Mexico and the third in its system overall; in 2010 the utility began receiving power from the 30-MW Cimarron Solar facility located in Colfax County, N.M., and last month Tri-State announced an agreement to purchase power from the 30-MW San Isabel Solar Project to be constructed in southern Colorado. In 2014, 24 percent of the energy Tri-State and its member systems delivered to cooperative members was generated from renewable resources – one of the top ratios among electric utilities nationwide.