Feb. 19, 2014 - El Paso Electric Company (EPE) and Newman Solar LLC, owned by Colorado-based juwi solar Inc. (JSI) have signed an agreement to build a 10 megawatt (MW) solar energy facility in Northeast El Paso, Texas next to EPE's Newman Generation Station. JSI will be responsible for developing, designing, building and operating the Newman Solar project. The design phase will begin in early summer of this year, shortly followed by construction and final completion of the project tentatively scheduled for the end of 2014.
"Our commitment to building a portfolio that includes renewable energy technologies in order to complement our local, clean burning natural gas units help make overall power in our region dependable, safe and cleaner," said Tom Shockley, Chief Executive Officer at EPE. "We continue to look for opportunities to add cost effective solar energy such as the Newman Solar project, which in the long run helps reduce emissions and provide cleaner air. EPE is at the forefront in the solar energy industry, which is fitting given our location and abundance of the solar resources. We continue to look for the most cost-effective and reliable resources for our customers which today is led by natural gas resources that support and enable us to expand our solar portfolio."
The construction of the new solar facility will help power over 3,800 homes throughout the year. The facility will be built on approximately 100 acres. EPE will sublease the land in partnership with the El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU) and currently leased to EPE for the Newman Generation Station. "At EPWU, we believe strongly in creating a sustainable future for El Paso - that's why it is important for us to support solar project initiatives," said John Balliew, President and CEO at EPWU. "EPWU is pleased to be involved with this project as it will provide clean energy for our communities and will contribute to the development of renewable energy resources in the region."
The Newman Solar project in Northeast El Paso will be constructed by Newman Solar LLC. The energy from the project is being secured through a cost competitive PPA when considered from a total resource cost basis. The PV system will be comprised of photovoltaic modules. "We are incredibly excited to be working with El Paso Electric and others in the El Paso community to provide clean, reliable solar power to EPE customers in a cost-effective manner," said Michael Martin, CEO of juwi solar. "We also eagerly anticipate breaking ground and completing our second utility-scale solar project in the state of Texas."
EPE and JSI signed a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for 10 megawatts (AC) of solar photovoltaic energy in which EPE will purchase all of the solar energy, renewable energy credits and associated attributes. The 10MW AC ground mounted PV system will interconnect to EPE's new Patriot Substation via a dedicated 13.8kV distribution feeder. The contractual Commercial Operation Date (COD) for the solar facility is December 2014.
EPE currently has 47MWs of solar power in its generation mix and recently secured an additional 50 MWs of solar power that will be online by the summer of this year. In total, 5 percent of EPE's dedicated generation, which includes long-term purchase power agreements, will come from solar energy.