Work starts on El Paso Electric solar plant at Holloman AFB

Construction has begun for a $13 million, El Paso Electric solar plant on Holloman Air Force Base outside Alamogordo, officials announced Wednesday.

The Air Force will pay the cost of building the 5-megawatt plant, but El Paso Electric will operate and maintain it, and sell the power to the base, said George De La Torre, a spokesman for the utility.

The solar plant will be slightly bigger than the 3-megawatt community solar plant El Paso Electric opened this year at its Montana Power Station in far East El Paso County.

El Paso Electric gets power from five solar plants in New Mexico, including two large ones that provide electricity for its Southern New Mexico and West Texas service area with about 417,000 customers.

Site work has begun for the $13 million solar plant at Holloman Air Force Base.

(Photo: COURTESY)

The Holloman plant — expected to begin operation next summer — will provide enough electricity to power about 1,700 homes, but power from the plant will be used for facilities throughout the Air Force base, De La Torre said.

"The Air Force is committed to providing installations the support they need" for initiatives and technologies, including solar power, to "complement and enhance installation energy assurance plans," Dan Soto, Renewable Energy Division chief at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, said in a statement.

This is El Paso Electric’s first solar plant on a military installation. The utility in 2015 canceled plans for a $46.7 million solar plant at Fort Bliss in El Paso because the company could not reach an agreement with the Army for the 218 acres needed for the project.

The Holloman plant, which will have 56,000 thin-film, solar modules, will be on 42 acres inside the Air Force base located about 95 miles northwest of El Paso.

The solar plant is being built by M+W Energy, which built El Paso Electric’s community solar plant in El Paso County. The company is the energy-project arm of German-based engineering company M+W Group.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at 546-6421; vkolenc@elpasotimes.com; @vickolenc on Twitter.

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