This is a guest posted by  Marvin Tessneer from the Las Cruces Bulletin. We’d like to thank the Bulletin for always being so willing to share their content on the Picacho Mountain Blog. The Las Cruces Bulletin is a valuable asset to the Las Cruces, NM community. If you haven’t had a chance to read the Bulletin, please visit their web site to check them out!

Solar Energy PanelsNRG Energy Inc. has started construction on its Roadrunner Solar Electric Facility near Santa Teresa, the state’s first solar power plant. The New Jersey-based company is building the Roadrunner Solar Electric Facility on 210 acres of industrial-zoned land about 10 miles north of El Paso. First Solar Inc., will provide engineering, construction and procurement services for the project.

The Roadrunner facility will be a 20-mega­watt photovoltaic solar project, NRG Energy officials said.

The power will be sold to El Paso Electric Co. under a 20-year power-purchase agree­ment. At full capacity, the facility is designed to supply the energy demands of about 16,000 families.

“We’re anticipating that NRG will complete the construction this year,” said Rocky Miracle of the Corporative Planning and Development Department at El Paso Electric. “We’re work­ing on the interconnection, and we’re right on schedule. Solar energy generates direct cur­rent, but there’ll be a conversion unit at Santa Teresa that’ll feed alternating current into our system.”

NRG Energy expects to have construction completed by fall of this year, said Lori Neuman, director of communications.

“The agreement with NRG demonstrates our desire to add clean, carbon-free energy to our generation portfolio at a reasonable cost for the benefit or our customers, the environ­ment and the communities we serve,” said Da­vid Stevens, El Paso Electric CEO. “Electricity generated at the Roadrunner facility will avoid annual emissions of 27,000 tons of carbon when compared to traditional fossil-fueled generation.”

NRG Energy CEO David Crane said the company would like to expand its reach to other parts of New Mexico.

“The merits of solar power – zero emissions, sustainable, coincident with peak demand, compliant with state renewable portfolio stan­dards – are clear,” he said. “We hope to further our partnership with the state to bring more of solar power’s many benefits to its residents.”

NRG Energy is installing solar panel arrays that will contain photovoltaic cells to generate direct current electrical power.

The panels are manufactured by First Solar, a leading photovoltaic panel manufacturer in the United States, which has been providing solar panels for the NRG Blythe Solar Project in Riverside in southeastern California.

Photovoltaic panels absorb what the industry refers to as photons.

“When photons strike the solar cells contained in the panel, they can be reflected, absorbed or pass through the panel. When photons are absorbed, they have the energy to knock electrons loose, which flow in one direction in the panel and exit through connecting wires as solar electricity, ultimately providing power for residential and commercial users,” according to a First Solar report.

Previously, NRG had planned to install a solar-thermal system that used mirrors to reflect and direct sunlight at a steep angle into towers that convert water into steam that turn turbines to generate electric power. But after reviewing the proposal, NRG decided it would take too long to get the solar-thermal system into operation, and it changed to the photovoltaic system, according to NRG officials.

First Solar has provided the photovoltaic panels to the NRG Blythe Solar Project in California. The Blythe plant has the capacity to provide enough energy at peak capacity to serve the needs of 17,000 homes and remove more than 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

Contact Picacho Mountain today at 575-523-2500 for more Go Green information on using solar energy and building  energy-efficient, green home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Custom Estate Homes, Patio Homes, Town Homes, and Neighborhood Retail.

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