Article courtesy of the Las Cruces Bulletin
By Marvin Tessneer
The Las Cruces community will connect with renewable energy when NRG Energy starts generating power this fall at its Roadrunner Solar Plant in Santa Teresa.
The solar panel plant is being set up on 210 acres of privately owned land, 10 miles west of El Paso adjacent to El Paso Electric Co. transmission lines.
The plant is designed to create 20 megawatts of solar generated electrical power that will be sold to El Paso Electric Co. under a 20-year power purchase agreement. NRG also plans to invest $21 million in the project in the next three years, according to an NRG Energy news release.
“We’re very pleased that the NRG Roadrunner Solar Facility in Santa Teresa is coming along according to schedule, and we’re looking forward to the site’s presentation this fall,” said El Paso Electric Chief Executive Officer David Stevens. “Our 20-year contract to purchase the power from the facility demonstrates El Paso Electric’s on-going commitment to solar energy research, education and utilization in this area.”
At full capacity, the Roadrunner Solar plant will, in domestic terms, supply enough energy for 16,000 families, according to an NRG Energy news release.
The electricity is generated by what is referred to in the industry as photons in solar photovoltaic panels that are manufactured by First Solar, a company in California.
When photons strike solar cells in the panel, they are reflected, absorbed or passed through the panel. When they are absorbed, they have the energy to knock electrons loose, which flow in one direction within the panel and leave the panels through transmission wires as electric power, according to a First Solar fact sheet.
Voltaic solar panels generate direct current, and El Paso Electric converts it to alternating current with an inverter for domestic and business use, the power company reported.
Electric power generated at the Roadrunner plant will avoid an annual emission of 27,000 tons of carbon when compared with fossil fuel generation, NRG Energy reported.
The advantages of solar power, zero-emission, sustainable energy, coincident with peak demand and compliant with the state are convincing, said David Crane, NRG president, in an earlier news release.