June 13, 2024

Origis Energy, Tri-State Complete 200-MW Escalante Solar in New Mexico

Origis Energy and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association have completed the construction of the Escalante Solar project and achieved commercial operation. This 200-MW PV project is built on the site of the former 253-MWAC coal-fired Escalante Station near Grants, New Mexico.

Solar Array Powers Tri-State Under PPA with Origis Energy

The project, announced in 2020 as part of Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan, is situated in the service territory of Tri-State member Continental Divide Electric Cooperative. It stands as the largest solar project within Tri-State’s generation portfolio.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association engaged in a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Origis Energy for the Escalante project, ensuring that the solar array supplies electricity to Tri-State's customers and 11 electric cooperative members in New Mexico.

This initiative reflects Tri-State's dedication to procuring renewable energy and delivering sustainable power solutions to its stakeholders. The project, launched in 2020, aligns with Tri-State's Responsible Energy Plan, further solidifying its commitment to sustainable energy practices.

New Solar Project to Power 63,000 Homes

The new solar project, generating 200 MWac of clean energy, is projected to power around 63,000 homes. This development plays a crucial role in helping Tri-State reach its target of 50% clean energy usage by 2025, meeting New Mexico's Energy Transition Act requirements five years early.

Duane Highley, CEO of Tri-State, stated, “Escalante Solar helps all our members achieve 50% clean energy usage by 2025, meeting the requirements of New Mexico’s Energy Transition Act five years ahead of schedule. We thank Origis Energy for their successful development of Escalante Solar and deeply appreciate their engagement with the local community.”

Guy Vanderhaegen, Executive Chairman of Origis Energy, highlighted the importance of completing the project, stating, "Every time a project is completed and begins commercial operation, that is cause to celebrate. We are especially delighted to bring affordable, reliable, renewable electricity to the members of Tri-State, which helps meet Tri-State’s decarbonization goals." 

Solar Project to Boost Local Economy and Job Opportunities

The project is anticipated to generate approximately $7.1 million in taxes for the county and $2.4 million for the local school district over its operational lifetime.

Robert E. Castillo, CEO and General Manager of Continental Divide Electric Cooperative, emphasized the local advantages of the Escalante Solar project, stating, "The addition of a new tax base for McKinley County and our local school district is certainly beneficial, and we appreciate Tri-State and the project partners for bringing Escalante Solar to our region."

Senator Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, praised the Escalante Solar project for honoring New Mexico's rich legacy of energy production, stating, "New Mexico communities have a long, proud history of powering our state and the rest of our country. This new solar project builds on that tradition — connecting more families across our state to clean, low-cost electricity."

Gridworks, based in Albuquerque, played a pivotal role by providing construction services for the Escalante Solar project, employing around 400 people during that phase. Origis Energy Services will handle long-term operations and maintenance, supporting approximately four to six on-site jobs, further contributing to local employment and sustainable energy management.

The completion of the Escalante Solar project signifies a landmark in Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association’s renewable energy efforts, marking a decisive shift towards sustainability in New Mexico. By repurposing a former coal site, the project accelerates clean energy goals, delivers economic benefits to local communities, and exemplifies the transformative potential of renewable energy projects in fostering environmental stewardship and regional prosperity.

Solar Panels: The Journey So Far

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of solar stringers and how they work, let's talk about solar energy. Ever wondered how it all started and how solar panels came to be? Well, it all begins with the sun. The term 'solar' basically means 'related to the sun'. Solar energy is just that – energy derived from the sun's radiation. It's what can trigger chemical reactions, generate heat, or even produce electricity. Cool, right?

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