Escalante Solar celebrates halfway mark of construction

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As Escalante Solar nears completion of the installation of approximately 500,000 solar panel modules at the former Escalante Station near Grants, N.M., Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association member electric cooperatives joined representatives from Origis Energy and Tri-State, as well as state and local leaders, to commemorate the construction milestone with a panel-signing ceremony at the plant.

Under a power purchase agreement with Origis Energy, Escalante Solar will provide 200 megawatts of clean solar output to Tri-State members. This includes 11 electric cooperative members in New Mexico, when it is finished in 2024. The project is located in the service region of Tri-State member Continental Divide Electric Cooperative. Further, it was announced in 2020 as part of Tri-State’s groundbreaking Responsible Energy Plan.

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Comments on the Escalante Solar project

“Escalante Solar is meaningful to the New Mexico electric cooperatives that will greatly benefit from this project, while maintaining reliable and affordable power,” said Tri-State Chairman Tim Rabon, who is also a trustee of Otero County Electric Cooperative in Cloudcroft, N.M. “Tri-State continues to reinvest in our local communities and advance our memberships’ goals. 50% of the energy used by our members generated from renewable resources in 2025.”

“When we announced details of our Responsible Energy Plan in January 2020, we set ambitious clean energy and emissions reductions goals. We detailed the many steps needed to ensure we could continue to serve our members’ needs reliably and affordably.” Duane Highley, CEO of Tri-State Energy said. “These steps included the addition of more renewable resources. They include Escalante Solar. It will help meet the 2030 renewable energy requirements of New Mexico’s Energy Transition Act five years early.”

With the inclusion of the solar project on the former coal-plant site, a new tax base from power generation will be developed for the area. All while providing Tri-State members with a steady cost of power. Furthermore, the project negotiated an Industrial Revenue Bond with McKinley County, N.M. It states that it will pay roughly $7,100,000 in taxes to the County and $2,400,000 in taxes to the School District throughout the life of the project.