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Big solar project to break ground in Lovington

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LOVINGTON – Here comes the sun.

Louth Callan Renewables LLC, headquartered in Connecticut and with facilities from Maine to Virginia, and in California, New Mexico and Michigan, has filled out paperwork to break ground on building the infrastructure for a $325-$350 million solar farm project in Lovington.

This project, according to the Lovington Economic Development Corporation, will include a 300-megawatt solar power system to be installed in two separate parcels on 1,400 acres of the city’s industrial park. The lease on the land will be for 25-plus years, generating millions in revenue to the city.

While a pre-construction period of surveying, engineering, permitting, and working with local utility companies will happen sooner, the project should break ground by the 4th quarter of 2023.

“It’s going to be a process,” Louth Callan Business Development Manager James Saleh said. “It’s going to be all of three years. The only other project that’s been built that’s close to this size is about 143 megawatts down in Roswell, so this will be almost twice the size.”

“This 300-megawatt solar installation will be two times larger than any state solar array to date,” the LEDC statement said.

The amount of energy the solar panels will produce is estimated to be more than 38,000 homes a year for 25 years.

“It is exciting. The governor signed a bill in April or June of this year and we’re fortunate enough to be one of the first to really get here,” Saleh said. “We don’t just arbitrarily call, we’re very focused, our CEO Nick Sylvestre has 10 years of solar (work) under his belt for some big companies, like Tesla.

The bill Saleh referenced is SB 84 — making New Mexico the 21st state to pass community solar legislation.

“Nick set out to say, ‘Hey I want to put together a team and a group that will be able to originate our projects, develop them, construct them, engineer them, operate them, maintain them,’ and he set out to do that about four years ago.”

The projected revenue from the Lovington solar installation is estimated at $47,66.40 per month ($375 per acre per year), inclusive of a one percent annual escalator, Saleh said.

“Over the course of about three years it will create about 35-50 indirect jobs, which are services,” Saleh said. “Once we get into construction, that’ll get into an additional 200 to 225 jobs, with the ultimate goal and result of about 25 permanent jobs.”

“We’re excited. It’s a project that we’ve been needing for quite some time. Just coming out of the pandemic, the city doing revisions on their budget, I think this is a great addition. It’s $15 million over a 25-year span. It’s 250 jobs and everyone will be hired locally,” Lovington EDC CEO Evelyn Holguin said. “The only people that are going to come with are managers, people who are part of their group. We will have a lot of foot traffic coming into here (Lovington) staying at our hotels, eating at our restaurants, fueling here, their headquarters will be here, located in central Loving-ton. Out of their 30 projects, their 30 contracts they have everything will be handled out of this office (Loving-ton).”

Lovington Mayor David Trujillo added, “Us as a community, we have to be willing to invest. In the outcome of this project, job creations, revenue for the city and for infrastructure projects, local law enforcement, the money from that project will be well allocated and accepted and needed for our community. We reach out to diversify our community and not be so reliant on oil and gas.”

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