Construction begins on El Paso’s largest solar plant – El Paso Times

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El Paso Electric officials — on Earth Day — celebrated the construction start of the utility’s latest major solar plant.

The $200 million Felina Solar Resource plant project, located on about 1,000 acres of remote desert land in far East El Paso County, will be the largest solar plant in El Paso, one of the two largest in EPE’s grid, and the first to be operated by the utility.

EPE buys the electricity generated from the other big solar plants developed for the utility, most of those in New Mexico, through power purchase agreements. It has nine other major solar plants on its grid in West Texas and southern New Mexico.

The new, 150-megawatt plant, with about 340,000 solar panels, will produce enough power for about 75,000 El Paso homes. But 50MW of power will be reserved for EPE’s new Texas Business Community Solar Program.

Jessica Christianson, an El Paso Electric vice president, left; Kelly Tomblin, EPE chief executive officer, center; and Robert Wanless, an executive for Depcom Power, at the Monday, April 22, groundbreaking ceremony for the 150MW Felina Solar Resource plant in far East El Paso County

That will allow some commercial customers to get power from the solar plant, as a limited number of residential customers have been doing for several years through EPE’s residential Community Solar Program.

The project, including building electric transmission lines and an electric substation, will cost about $200 million, said Jessica Christianson, El Paso Electric’s vice president of sustainability and energy solutions.

It will provide about 250 to 300 jobs during construction, which is expected to be completed by fall 2025, according to Depcom Power, the Phoenix-area solar plant contractor building the plant.

The remote location, off of San Felipe Road and about five miles northeast of the iconic Cattleman’s Steakhouse, was chosen because it’s near where El Paso Electric had years ago planned to build transmission lines, and the land was available, Christianson said.

El Paso Electric CEO Kelly Tomblin, left, speaks to Hector Aguilar and his wife, Slyvia Ruvaleaba, owners of about 1,000 acres of land they're leasing for the utility's 150MW Felina Solar Resource plant. They spoke after the Monday groundbreaking ceremony.

El Paso Electric is leasing the 1,000 acres from a family that bought it about 20 years ago with an eye toward future housing and other development. Financial details of the lease were not disclosed.

Putting a solar farm on the land “makes more sense,” said Hector Aguilar, who owns the land with his wife, Slyvia Ruvaleaba, and her sister, Soe Ruvaleaba.

“We hope to see more of this (El Paso solar plants)” because it will help bring companies and jobs to this area by making more electricity available, said Aguilar, an El Paso native who recently retired as continuing education dean at Austin Community College in the state’s capital.

“One thing El Paso has is an abundance of land and sun” for solar plants, Aguilar said after the April 22 groundbreaking ceremony.

El Paso Electric has begun construction on the $200 million, 150 megawatt Felina Solar Resource project, on about 1,000 acres of remote desert, off of San Felipe Road, in far East El Paso County.

More: GECU putting first branch outside El Paso in Las Cruces as it also expands virtually

El Paso Electric CEO Kelly Tomblin at the ceremony said the utility isn’t finished building solar plants and other power sources to meet growth in this area and help bring in companies.

“We’re going to build more and do more,” Tomblin said at the ceremony. “We are going to be bold and responsible.”

Facebook operator Meta Platforms’ proposed data center in Northeast El Paso possibly could get power from the new solar plant, Tomblin said after the ceremony.

Another 150MW solar plant also is under construction in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, on El Paso’s western edge. EPE has an agreement to buy all the power from the Hecate Energy plant when completed.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at 915-546-6421; [email protected]@vickolenc on Twitter, now known as X.

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