Sustainable Solar Energy Mega-expansion for New Mexico
By the time you read this, Schott Solar’s enormous new solar panel manufacturing facility in Mesa del Sol will be “old” news for most New Mexicans, so our approach to this great news is a little different to this initial $100 million investment….
First, to Schott and its executives who took the big step of choosing the Land of Enchantment over 15 states and 2 nations to build their Innovation Park factory: WELCOME! This firm is one of the largest in the world making solar panels and is based in Germany.
The deal was sealed in a hotel room in Manchester, New Hampshire during Gov. Richardson’s campaigning there; it will ultimately bring 1500 management jobs to New Mexico, and the 350 it hires initially will immediately make it the 3rd largest private employer in our state. Former Attorney General Paul Bardacke put it succinctly (and we hope the message is loud and clear to the dwindling number of Republican gripers and kvetchers about how much Bill Richardson was gone in the past year): within 4 days of his ending his Presidential campaign, he is back in Santa Fe with outstanding economic development news.
The welcoming press release was held Monday at the Governor’s Roundtable, and it was extraordinary to sit at a table with the Governor, Senator Bingaman, Congresswomen Wilson, Lt. Gov. Denish, Economic Development Secretary Fred Mondragon, Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons (the 80 acre tract is all state land, and Commissioner Lyons pointed out that the money paid for the land use goes entirely into Education), and the CEO/ President of Schott, Mark Finocchario, and the International Board Chairman, Dr. Ugo Ungeheuer, some other luminaries of New Mexico, plus some very hardworking support staff.
"Schott’s Solar's decision to create clean-tech jobs in New Mexico demonstrates that our State is at the forefront of the clean energy revolution," said Governor Bill Richardson. "New Mexico is where leading clean energy firms want to be, thanks to our strong workforce, business-friendly environment, and our abundant renewable energy resources."
"According to both industry analysts and our projections, the market for solar energy will double over the next five years," said Dr. Udo Ungeheuer, Chairman of Board of Management. "With this new plant, Schott Solar, the State of New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque, and Bernalillo County are taking a lead in answering the growing demand for renewable energy in the United States.”
Schott was attracted to New Mexico thanks in part to the State's commitment to the consumption of renewable energy. New Mexico currently has an aggressive 20% renewable portfolio standard, which mandates that by the year 2020, 20% of energy consumed in New Mexico must be generated by renewable energy sources, of which 4% must be from solar power. Additionally, New Mexico is at the forefront of progressive energy models in the U.S. with its feed-in tariff.
"Schott Solar is not only investing in New Mexico, but in the energy independence of the United States. We are proud that with the new facility, the company will become one of the nation's leading providers of solar power generating products. "The recent opening of the 64 MW Nevada Solar One solar thermal power plant demonstrates that large-scale solar thermal power is a renewable energy technology whose time has come." said Mark Finocchario, President and CEO of Schott Solar. "We expect that the reliability and cost-effectiveness of solar thermal parabolic trough power plants, along with the Southwestern United States' vast solar resources, will help make solar thermal power one of the United States' leading sources of renewable energy by 2025."
This is great news for all of the sustainability folks, for the peaceniks asking for a new direction at Los Alamos National Laboratories, for the Economic Development types, for the unemployed and the underskilled in New Mexico, for the educators who can direct their instruction to something beneficial for their students and for mankind, for the Legislators who will enjoy spending the increased monies on Education, for the residents of Albuquerque who will have an instant new major employer, and for the University of New Mexico, which has for far too long been essentially forced to a large extent to train weapons designers and manufacturers in its curriculum in Sciences and Engineering.