Tri-State Signs Nation's Largest Co-op Contract for Solar Power

March 25, 2009

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association has signed a 25-year contract with First Solar, Inc. to purchase power produced from a 30-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) plant to be built in northeastern New Mexico. First Solar says the agreement is the largest PV contract signed by an electric cooperative in the United States, and the PV plant will be the largest utility-scale solar facility in the region.

First Solar will engineer, procure, construct, and maintain the Cimarron I Solar Project on 250 acres in Colfax County, between the towns of Cimarron and Springer, New Mexico, approximately 135 miles northeast of Santa Fe. The facility will comprise approximately 500,000 2-foot-by-4-foot PV modules constructed with First Solar's patented thin film semiconductor technology.

Construction of the plant is slated to begin in April 2010 and is expected to create between 120 and 140 construction jobs. Tri-State says the plant will begin to produce energy by August 2010 and construction will be complete by the end of that year.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said the announcement of a major new solar power plant in Colfax County is welcome news and is a result of the state's "world-class renewable resources and a ready workforce."

First Solar's thin film semiconductor technology was developed in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory. That technology won an R&D 100 award in 2003. (See the First Solar September 11, 2003 press release.)

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., is a wholesale electric power supplier serving more than 1.4 million consumers through 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The company's headquarters are in Westminster, Colorado. First Solar, Inc., based in Tempe, Arizona, is a global manufacturer of PV modules.

For more information about the Cimarron Solar I Project, see the First Solar March 24 press release and the Tri-State announcement.

To read more about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in New Mexico, see: