ROSWELL, NM — Roswell will soon be home to the largest solar energy plant in southeastern New Mexico.
The largest wind and power generator in North American, NextEra, will be investing $290 million in the project. There will be approximately 700,000 3×6 solar panels built on 1800 acres of land. The land was originally used as grazing property.
“You are getting dependable solar energy for day time electricity at a cheaper rate. At the same time, it’s clean for the environment,” said Patrick Lyons, District 2 Commissioner. The arrival and construction of the solar fields are also expected to generate hundreds of jobs and boost the economy. “We are creating a lot of jobs. Our general contractor has already hired a number of local folks from Roswell for construction, so the construction period is one year. We are talking about jobs in the range of 250-300 in the next year, and then about four or five permanent jobs after that,” Lyons said. Along with boosting the economy and providing jobs, the solar panels will also be used to help the local school district and Chaves County. “We have worked out an arrangement with the county and the schools, both of which have been blessed, where we are going to pay $660,000 a year for these two projects combined. 60 percent will go directly to the county and 40 percent will go to the Roswell Independent School District. Those payments will start next year,” Jim Shandalov, NextEra Energy Director.
Once complete, the solar panels will be able to provide power to more than 40,000 homes. The solar fields are expected to be completed by fall 2016