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Tri-State and First Solar sign major development agreement

30-megawatt New Mexico solar facility among world's largest photovoltaic projects



Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association has entered into an agreement with Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar, Inc. to develop a 30-megawatt (AC), 500,000-panel solar photovoltaic power plant in northeastern New Mexico.  The “Cimarron Solar Facility” is the largest photovoltaic project by an electric cooperative and among the largest facility of its kind in the world.


Cimarron I Solar Project visualization
Click here to watch a visualization of the project

“Tri-State is committed to renewable energy in our resource planning that brings value to our member cooperatives across the four states we serve,” said Tri-State general manager and executive vice president Ken Anderson. “It’s noteworthy that Tri-State’s first utility-scale renewable energy project will be among the largest solar photovoltaic projects in the world.”


A workforce of 120 to 140 construction personnel will be required during construction of the facility, which is scheduled to commence by April 2010, with the first portion of the system producing energy by August.  The facility is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2010.


“New Mexico has some of the best renewable resources and workforce in the West,” said New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.  “Tri-State’s and First Solar’s investment in the state will create jobs and advance our agenda for renewable energy.”


The project will be located on a 250-acre parcel of land in Colfax County, located between the towns of Cimarron and Springer, N.M. – within the service territory of Springer Electric Cooperative, one of Tri-State’s 12 New Mexico member co-ops.


“Tri-State’s development of the facility in our service territory benefits all of its 44 members in meeting our consumers’ renewable energy and environmental goals,” said David Spradlin, general manager of Springer Electric Cooperative.  “It’s good to see that solar energy is finding a viable home within Tri-State’s generation resource mix.”


The facility will provide enough energy to serve the equivalent needs of approximately 9,000 homes and help Tri-State to displace emissions of carbon dioxide.  “This is a significant venture for Tri-State that meets several objectives identified by our board of directors,” said Anderson.  “It further diversifies our generation mix, it assists us in addressing carbon emissions and it helps meet our members’ renewable energy requirements.”


The solar field will consist of approximately 500,000 2’ x 4’ photovoltaic modules constructed with First Solar’s patented thin film semiconductor technology.  First Solar will act as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor and will monitor and maintain the facility.


“We are excited to be part of Tri-State’s first utility-scale PV power plant and the largest PV power plant serving a cooperative in the United States,” said John Carrington, First Solar executive vice president of marketing and business development.  “This 30-megawatt PV power plant is another important demonstration of our ability to provide affordable, utility-scale solar solutions.”


Tri-State has contracted to purchase the electricity output from the facility for a 25-year period.  Financial and operational terms of the agreement are confidential. 


Related visuals – computer animation video and still shots, photography of the project site and company logos – are available for download at:



Updated: March 24, 2009




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