Friday News Roundup: Solar Power Station On It's Way To Completion

Dec 27, 2013

  Construction Under Way On New Mexico's Largest Solar Array -The Associated Press

 New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell says construction is well underway on what will be the state's largest solar-power generating station.

Powell shared photos this week of the Macho Springs solar power project near Deming, where workers have been busy installing the tracking systems on which thousands of solar panels will be placed.

Ground was broken in July, and the work is expected to be complete in May.

The solar project covers about 400 acres of state trust land, and Powell says the decades-long lease could generate as much as $14 million in trust benefits for public schools, universities and hospitals.

First Solar Inc. is developing the solar project. It has contracted with El Paso Electric Power to provide about 50 megawatts of solar power for 20 years.

New Mexico Marks Year Of Weather Extremes - The Associated Press

It seemed there was no end in sight after three years without any meaningful snow or summer rain. This year, New Mexico's drought became what climate experts and water managers were calling unprecedented.

A summer heat wave made things worse as the state's reservoirs were reduced to mucky messes, and stretches of the Rio Grande and Pecos rivers went dry.

But summing up New Mexico's weather this year isn't that simple.

There was record rainfall, flash flooding, historic wind gusts and a severe hailstorm that put snow plows to work during the first week of July.

Deirdre Kann with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque says New Mexico is finishing the year with near normal temperatures and precipitation, but the fluctuations during the year were anything but near normal.

 New Mexico Cities Prepare For Christmas Tree RecyclingThe Associated Press

More than 20,000 Christmas trees are expected to be recycled at several sites around New Mexico when the annual recycling event begins next week.

Public Service Company of New Mexico is teaming up with Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and the village of Ruidoso to offer the tree recycling. Six sites set up in the three communities will begin accepting trees Jan. 2.

City officials in Farmington are also running a tree recycling program.

Officials say the recycling programs will save valuable landfill space and generate water-saving and protective landscaping mulch.

Only those trees that have decorations, tinsel, tree spikes and stands removed will be accepted.

New Mexico Border Town Works to Emerge From ScandalThe Associated Press

A New Mexico border town rocked by a gun-smuggling ring in 2011 involving the village's former mayor and police chief is working to emerge from the scandal.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Columbus, N.M. employees say the village is almost out of debt and elected officials are working to win over residents' trust.

A joint investigation in 2011 by U.S. and Mexico law enforcement agencies nabbed a gun-smuggling ring of more than a dozen people including city officials

Columbus Mayor Nicole Lawson says she will not seek a second term after dedicating more than two years to putting village affairs back in order.

Pecan Harvest Slow Going In Dona Ana CountyThe Associated Press

The weather has caused some problems for pecan growers in southern New Mexico.

The first delay for the harvest was prolonged warm weather. Growers must wait for temperatures cold enough to kill the greenery and prep the trees and pecans for picking.

A snow storm in late November and rain a couple of weeks ago added to the delay.

With muddy orchards, harvesting machinery can't move through the rows to shake nuts off the trees and sweep them off the ground.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the problem is worse for some growers depending on where their orchards are located.

Near Garfield, Edmund Ogaz's fields are taking a while to dry out after getting 5 inches of snow. Just north of Las Cruces, grower Dick Salopek has been harvesting since the day after Thanksgiving.