MVEDA spotlights New Mexico solar Santa Teresa development continues in spite of economy

A field of eSolar sun-tracking heliostats in Southern California absorb energy from the sun. The eSolar heliostats, the same used in the company’s Southern California facility, which concentrate sunlight into a thermal receiver mounted on solar power towers about 180 feet high, are being installed at eSolar’s facility in Santa Teresa, N.M., as part of power generation partnership with El Paso Electric Co.

By Kristine Sandrick The Las Cruces Bulletin

Capturing the sun’s energy using mirrors to fuel southern New Mexico and west Texas homes was the hot topic of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA) annual appreciation luncheon Friday, March 12, at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces.

Luncheon keynote speaker Jim Shandalov, eSolar’s vice president of business development, talked about his company’s new power plant under construction in Santa Teresa, N.M. The company plans to break ground this spring and have the power center operating by summer 2011.

Shandalov said the 92-megawatt plant is being constructed in unincorporated Doña Ana County, 1 mile north of the Mexican border off the Pete Domenici Highway.

The Santa Teresa plant will use 390,000 mirrors to collect energy, and the turbines will be connected to El Paso Electric power lines. Shandalov said the electricity will be enough to power 74,000 homes in peak production.

The company’s concentrating solar power (CSP) technology uses a field of small, flat mirrors – called heliostats – to concentrate sunlight onto a thermal receiver mounted on solar power towers approximately 180 feet high. The captured sunlight heats water in a thermal receiver to produce steam that powers a traditional turbine generator and produces electricity. The eSolar technology leverages a highly accurate system to track the sun over the course of the day.

This eSolar plant developed in Southern California Edison supplies 5 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. It’s currently the only commercial CSP tower in the United States and supplies electricity to more than 4,000 homes. The plant being built in Doña Ana County will have the capability to power more than 70,000 homes in peak production.

Due to its modular design and preassembled components, the eSolar solution allows plants to be sited on private land parcels near existing transmission lines and points of consumption.

“It’s a 500-acre site, which is a lot less land and uses less steel than a typical plant, but will create more processing power,” he said. “There will be more (boiler) towers and more mirrors than at our 5-megawatt Sun Tower plant in Lancaster (Calif.)” In addition to the Lancaster plant, which opened in August 2009, eSolar has solar energy partnerships in India, China and South Africa.

Idealab – an Internet search engine company that was bought by Yahoo! – created eSolar just three years ago in Pasadena, Calif.

New Mexico in general has done such a tremendous job to bring us here,” Shandalov said. “That’s what brought us here. The site is directly adjacent to El Paso Electric lines and Doña Ana County is supplying the water for the coolers.”

He added that there is a good workforce available to fill the 400 jobs created during the 14- to 16-month construction period.

Shandalov said the plant is built to last 30 years and the only major maintenance required is keeping the mirrors clean and replacing them as necessary.

Also during Friday’s luncheon, MVE-DA’s chief executive officer Davin Lopez presented the nonprofit agency’s new marketing look, which he said will help southern New Mexico better attract national site selectors.

“Our goal is to make this area competitive across the country. When people think of New Mexico, they think of how rural it is so we want to broaden what they think of us as a region,” Lopez said.

MVEDA’s new logo emphasizes the “MV,” which stands for Mesilla Valley, and clearly identifies the area’s location with the state. Lopez also presented a new MVEDA website that emphasizes the availability of “the right space” for both commercial land and air pace development. The website also has a language translator so it can be read by anyone anywhere in the world.

For more information, visit

Contact Picacho Mountain today for more information about other green projects and custom homes in Las Cruces, New Mexico.



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