City approves solar plant lease

LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO - A 5- to 10-megawatt solar generation plant will be built at the West Mesa Industrial Park after city council unanimously approved a 30-year lease to enXco Development Corp., a California renewable energy company.

"This looks exciting," said Mayor Ken Miyagishima, after hearing enXco's plans.

The company will use approximately 86 acres at the city-owned industrial park for its project.

Also, enXco is attempting to negotiate a contract with El Paso Electric Co., to buy at least some of the energy that will be produced at the facility.

City Community Development Director David Weir said enXco's operations will likely create hundreds of jobs during construction of the facility, with additional technical jobs once solar generation begins.

Since 1987, enXco has developed, built, operate and manage renewable energy projects throughout the U.S. It is considered a leader in wind and solar energy generation.

"Our company is investing in New Mexico and, more importantly, in strategic areas," said Rob Hirsch, an enXco employee. "This is an important opportunity for New Mexico."

He added that Las Cruces' location makes it a perfect place for his company to establish a solar generation facility. "Las Cruces has great potential for solar," Hirsch said. "Since our projects do not utilize water, it fits well with New Mexico's arid climate."

According to city documents, the land lease could generate as much as $1.2 million for the city during the term of its lease. But Hirsch said there is more to the lease agreement than initial perceptions.

"It's not just a lease, it's an investment," Hirsch said. "We are investing into the long term. Our company will be getting 'green' power on your system (through El Paso Electric) rather than coal-based energy."

Hirsch added the facility at the West Mesa Industrial Park will become the first photovoltaic plant in New Mexico.

"We need to continue building the base, building the demand for alternative energy," City Councilor Nathan Small said.

Since 2002, enXco has been an affiliate of EDF Energies Nouvelles — formerly SIIF Energies. EDF Energies Nouvelles is a member of the EDF Group, with the charter of becoming a world leader in renewable energy.


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