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Tri-State Member Cooperatives Celebrate Halfway Point of Construction for Escalante Solar

12 Nov 2023

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

Escalante Solar, when completed in 2024, will bring 200-megawatts of clean solar generation to Tri-State’s members, including 11 electric cooperative members in New Mexico, under a power purchase agreement with Origis Energy. The project was announced in 2020 as part of Tri-State’s landmark Responsible Energy Plan, and is located in Tri-State member Continental Divide Electric Cooperative's service territory.


signing solar panel

L to R: Duane Highley, CEO Tri-State, Guy Vanderhaegen, CEO & President Origis Energy, and Tim Rabon, Board Chairman Tri-State, sign a solar panel to commemorate the halfway point in construction of Escalante Solar

“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 also serves as 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, with 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, and detailed the many steps needed to assure we could continue to serve our members’ needs reliably and affordably,” said Tri-State CEO Duane Highley. “These steps included the addition of more renewable resources, including Escalante Solar, which help meet the 2030 renewable energy requirements of New Mexico’s Energy Transition Act five years early.”

“Origis is honored to contribute to the fulfillment of Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan with the Escalante Solar plant,” said Guy Vanderhaegen, Chief Executive Officer & President of Origis Energy. “It was a pleasure to gather with Tri-State, its members and community representatives today as we celebrated this important installation milestone for Escalante Solar. We thank all who are contributing to the fruition of this 200-megawatt renewable energy facility in New Mexico.”

Gridworks, headquartered in Albuquerque, N.M., is providing construction services for the project, employing an estimated 400 people during that time. Origis Energy Services will provide long-term operations and maintenance services for the project, employing approximately 4-6 on-site jobs once the project is completed. The project will generate enough power to serve an estimated 40,000 homes.

With the addition of the solar project on the former coal-plant website, a new tax base will be created for the area from power generation, while providing a stable cost of power for Tri-State's members. Additionally, the project negotiated an Industrial Revenue Bond with McKinley County, N.M., which documents the project will pay approximately $7,100,000 in taxes to the County and $2,400,000 in taxes to the School District over the life of the project.

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