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Summary:

CNN founder, and “Mouth of the South,” Ted Turner has officially turned on his jointly-owned, 30-MW, solar farm in New Mexico. Turner and co-owner power company Southern Company Monday said morning that the so-called Cimarron Solar Facility “has begun commercial operation.”

Richard Branson & Ted Turner at World Climate Summit

CNN   founder, and “Mouth of the South,” Ted Turner has officially turned on his jointly-owned, 30-MW, solar farm in New Mexico. While Turner said last month at the World Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico, that the plant was in the process of being turned on, in a release from Turner and co-owner, power company Southern Company, Monday morning, the duo say the so-called Cimarron Solar Facility “has begun commercial operation.”

The $100 million solar facility is next to Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch in northern New Mexico, and took about a year to build. Southern Company owns 90 percent of the farm, while Turner owns 10 percent, and the facility will supply power to the electricity co-op, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. The project will use panels from First Solar, and First Solar will build the project.

Turner said in Cancun about turning on the facility: “We’re pretty excited about it.” He explained his partnership with power company Southern Company: “I’ve experimented with getting on the inside and working with them rather than opposing them on things.” Southern Company is one of the larger users of coal in the U.S., while Turner is a long-time environmentalist.

But Turner, of course, is a businessman interested in making money from his clean power investments. If you remember a couple of years ago, Turner sold his solar developer company, Turner Renewable Energy, to First Solar for $34.3 million, in a combination of First Solar common stock and cash. The deal was a surprising early exit for the investor in the solar space back in 2007. The Cinmarron project is the first deal to come out of a partnership between Turner Renewable Energy and Southern Company.

During Turner’s onstage interview in Cancun, Turner said he loved the solar panels he installed on his farm 25 years ago to electrify the fences so the bison wouldn’t get out, and he likes to go out and rub them (seriously, he said that). He also made the comparison between building solar plants and building coal plants: “Nobody’s been killed doing it, which is an important thing if you are a miner. No one went underground; it’s all on the surface of the desert.” Turner is the largest private land owner in the U.S., and will be able to use his land as a place for solar farms.

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  1. He’s correct that noone goes underground to replenish the source of fuel for the plant to run on. Unfortunately, he seems to be forgetting the fact that manufacturing the panels still requires rare earth minerals from foreign countries. Similar to electric vehicles (which still require gasoline, or fossil power from the utility company for the electricity), there is still an environmental/human cost of photovoltaics.

    Solar is obviously one of the cleanest power sources we have, along with wind, but it bothers me that people seem to forget there are downsides to alternative energy. Unless electric vehicles run on solar/wind generated power, someone somewhere is still polluting the earth. Of course, noone is talking about the toxic waste from the batteries that can’t be recycled.

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  2. Well this is just more of the same renewable energy mantra that gets recycled on other sites. You think renewables would be part of Santa Clauses bag, except he’s a myth that mostly benefits retailers. Yah kids, I guess you thought presents were free until you became adults and found out they have a cost.

    But now we have the renewable energy gig. But notice they don’t address how much ‘free’ taxpayer money goes to subsidize this ‘free’ energy. See http://www.riograndefoundation.org/content/renewables-draining-economy-0
    I wonder what kind of PTC money ol Tunner is getting for this windfarm on his land. The RES insures it.

    And what happens to all those alleged jobs, how much do they pay and how many are left to run and maintain the farm? And what do they pay? How many local jobs are created?

    If it’s soo good why does PNM have to raise their rates by some 20%? This is just the new pieridine of fleece enterprise.

    Then they fail to mention how this ‘wonderful’ green plant will cover peak periods or night time requirements when the solar input is minimal or non existent? They just overlook that small technical inconvenience.

    Yah there’s a lot of things overlooked by renewables that use to be the posterchild for ENRON. Nothing like politicians offering free stuff with other peoples money. Like try our product free on the Internet, just give use your credit card number. But many morons fall for that time and time again. There’s a potential idiot born every minute of the 24 hour day.

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