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Solar Thermal Power Plant to Be Built in New Mexico

NRG Energy, a provider of electric power and energy services, will build and operate a 92-megawatt solar thermal power plant in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, according to the New Mexico governor's office. The project is expected to create 20 permanent full-time jobs and 220 green construction jobs. Solar thermal power uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight on receivers that are placed on towers approximately 180 feet tall. This allows liquid in the receivers to be heated to very high temperatures and produce super-heated steam that then turns a turbine to produce electricity. The Associated Press reports that the Santa Teresa plant is expected to produce enough electricity to power 74,000 homes, which would make it the largest solar facility in the United States. California-headquartered eSolar, a builder of scalable solar power systems, will partner with New Jersey-based NRG for the project; El Paso Electric Company of Texas, which supplies power to a large part of southern New Mexico, has signed a 20-year contract to buy the electricity from the plant. Construction is expected to begin early next year, with the plant at full operation by summer 2011.

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