Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Rundown: Solar Project Coming to NM and a Boil Advisory for Angel Fire


Billion-Dollar Solar Manufacturing Project Comes to New Mexico

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday that Maxeon Solar Technologies will open a more than $1 billion-dollar solar cell and panel manufacturing center in Mesa del Sol.

The Singapore-based company’s planned 1.9 million-square-foot complex is the first commercial-scale solar cell manufacturer in the country and is expected to employ up to 1,800 people.

"I am proud to welcome Maxeon Solar Technologies' first US-based manufacturing facility to New Mexico," said the gov. "This private investment shows how our state programs, paired with President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, have charted a path for New Mexico as a leader in growing the clean energy economy and creating a strong workforce for the future."

Over the next 10 years, the project is expected to bring $4.2 billion to New Mexico according to the Governor's Office. 

“We undertook an intensive process to assess sites across the nation to find the right home for our first U.S. manufacturing facility, which includes solar cell fabrication and panel assembly. New Mexico had everything we were looking for: a strong business-friendly climate, supportive infrastructure, focus on workforce development, and deep roots in energy leadership,” said Maxeon Solar Technologies CEO Bill Mulligan.

The Maxeon plant is expected to be the first large-scale PV cell and panel manufacturing plant in New Mexico, and its planned capacity is approximately double the size of the largest silicon solar manufacturing facility currently operating in the U.S.

Construction is expected to start at the beginning of 2024 on 160 acres in Mesa del Sol.

"Albuquerque is at the forefront of the movement to bring manufacturing back home because of our unique location, affordability, and skilled workforce," said Tim Keller, Mayor of Albuquerque. "Bringing good paying jobs in clean energy will help foster new opportunities for families in New Mexico and create a more sustainable future for America."

At full production, the facility is projected to manufacture up to 8 million solar panels each year and will produce the latest-generation cell technology and solar modules.

Isleta Pueblo Governor Calls for Action in Wake of Mesa Del Sol Fire

The Governor of Isleta Pueblo Max Zuni sent a letter requesting a meeting with Mayor Tim Keller and other local leaders to discuss the expanded development of the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County and its impacts on community health and the environment.

The letter was sent in response to a fire at a plastic facility in Mesa Del Sol that sent a dark plume of smoke into the air that could be visible all across the metro area on Sunday. A multi-agency effort was needed to put the fire out and caused an air quality health alert to be issued on Sunday and into the following morning.

“As industry continues to expand in Albuquerque’s South Valley region, including in the Mesa Del Sol development area, residents and surrounding jurisdictions need to know that their health, safety, and the environment will be protected,” said Zuni in a statement. “When Mesa del Sol was first planned, it was billed as an area for housing, retail, and office-space. Now, however, it houses industrial facilities, which impacts all of Mesa del Sol’s neighbors, including the Pueblo of Isleta.”

The letter, which is addressed to Keller, was reportedly never received by his office according to a spokesperson. However, it was received by Director of Environmental Health, Angel Martinez.

A spokesperson said the city would take part in the meeting.

“The United Poly Systems fire on August 6, 2023 is an alarming example of the risk created by the continued growth of manufacturing and industrial development in southern Bernalillo County. Officials with the U.S. EPA has reported that 440,000 pounds of resin material, 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel, 400 gallons of fuel oil, and 125 gallons of propane were located at the United Poly Systems plant and potentially burned in the August 6th fire.” Zuni states in the letter.

Zuni is scheduling the meeting for Aug. 21 at 10 a.m.

Angel Fire Under Boil Water Advisory

The Village of Angel Fire issued a boil water advisory  on Friday, August 11 after E. coli, a bacteria, was detected in water samples collected from the water system’s distribution and well.

The Angel Fire public water system serves approximately 6,045 people. The

advisory applies only to the drinking water from the Village of Angel Fire and does not extend to any other surrounding water systems.

The presence of E. coli in water indicates that the water may have been in contact with sewage or animal wastes and could contain disease-causing organisms. 

Children, the elderly and immuno-compromised individuals are at an increased risk for illness.

Outdoor Recreation Division Begins Next Chapter With New Director

A new Executive director for The Outdoor Recreation Division is stepping up the plate. Ana Karina Armijo, who most recently served as Marketing and Tourism Director for the Town of Taos, was hired to fill the role of Executive Director for the Outdoor Recreation Division. Armijo will officially enter the role on Sept. 18, 2023.

Armijo has served as a Board Member for the Taos County Chamber of Commerce since 2022 and a Board Director for the New Mexico Hospitality Association (NMHA) since 2020. Armijo was named Tourism Professional of the Year by NMHA in 2022 and has earned a series of awards and accolades for tourism marketing and promotion over the years on behalf of Visit Taos.

“New Mexico has been my home for almost 30 years, and I'm so honored to serve in this role where I can champion a sustainable and equitable outdoor recreation economy that celebrates the diverse people, culture, and landscape of our beautiful state,” Armijo said.

Additionally, a memorandum signed on Aug. 4 aligned outdoor recreation closer to tourism efforts.


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