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The Associated Press September 23, 2011, 4:10PM ET

Solar power plants come online in southern NM

Three new solar power plants are up and running in southeastern New Mexico.

Xcel Energy, SunEdison and state and local officials gathered at one of the plants near Carlsbad on Thursday to celebrate the activation.

Officials say two more plants planned for the region are expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.

They say the five solar arrays will generate a total of about 109 million kilowatt-hours of power in the first year of operation. Officials say that's enough to power more than 10,000 homes.

The solar plants will help Xcel continue meeting New Mexico's renewable energy portfolio standard, which requires regulated utilities to meet 15 percent of electricity needs with renewable resources by 2015.

The standard will increase to 20 percent by 2020.

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