Southern and Turner to Buy Macho Springs From First Solar

First Solar Inc., the biggest U.S. panel producer, agreed to sell New Mexico’s largest photovoltaic power plant to Southern Co. and billionaire Ted Turner’s renewable-energy company.

The 50-megawatt Macho Springs project will power more than 18,000 homes and El Paso Electric Co. agreed to purchase the output under a 20-year contract, Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar said today in a statement. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Construction on the project on 600 acres in Luna County started in July and it will begin producing power this week.

Southern and Turner Renewable Energy have jointly purchased seven solar farms since January 2010 with more than 290 megawatts of total capacity.

El Paso Electric agreed to pay 5.79 cents a kilowatt-hour for power from Macho Springs, according to a January 2013 procedural order from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. That’s lower than the 8.42 cents for power from typical combined-cycle natural gas plants, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Additional incentives may increase the price that Southern and Turner receive for energy from Macho Springs.