By Associated Press - Monday, March 8, 2021

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard on Monday signed four leases with the city of Las Cruces that will boost the community’s renewable energy initiatives.

The agreements mark the first time the State Land Office has approved a municipality for renewable energy development for utility generation on state trust land. When completed, the four solar projects will replace existing power to four utility-scale water wells serving Las Cruces residents and businesses.

Garcia Richard said in a statement that she hopes the leases will serve as a framework for other cities as they seek alternatives to either power or provide utilities with renewable energy. She called it an affordable and tangible option for communities that are near state trust land.

“In order to meet the demands for more sustainable energy sources and reach the goals set in statute by the Energy Transition Act, New Mexico communities and government entities need to work together on innovative, clean energy solutions,” she said.

Under the 25-year leases, the city will pay roughly $20,000 annually for the use of 10 acres (4 hectares) of trust land in different areas of Las Cruces. The proceeds of the solar leases will directly benefit New Mexico public schools.

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