The Center, New Mexico
|Research type||Applied simulation
|Field of research||Renewable energy|
|Location||Near Hobbs, in Lea County, New Mexico, U.S.A.|
|Operating agency||Pegasus Global Holdings|
The Center, officially known as The Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation, is a proposed facility designed to test new technologies, particularly renewable natural energy. It was originally to have been located on about 15 square miles near the town of Hobbs in Lea County, New Mexico it was to have been a city with no permanent population. Due to the lack of people, The Center was described as a ghost town. Construction was scheduled to start in June 2012, but was cancelled in July 2012. Pegasus Global Holdings' decision to build the city arose from their own testing needs.
The purpose of The Center was to have been to “provide the opportunity for 'end-to-end' testing, evaluation and demonstration of new intelligent and green technologies and innovations.” Because it is a city, The Center’s testing environment would have been more realistic than a laboratory’s. In order to be useful for testing new technologies, The Center would have had functional utilities and telecommunications. The design of the center was inspired in part by Walt Disney World. Like Disney, The Center has the “fun stuff” above ground, while the maintenance systems would have been largely underground. The Center’s lack of residents enabled experiments as well. Researchers could have tested potentially dangerous technology, like driverless vehicles, without putting anyone in harm’s way. In addition to addressing safety concerns, The Center would have allowed researchers to experiment with technology that, “for practical, financial, [or] bureaucratic…reasons,” could not be done in an inhabited area.
In May 2012, Pegasus announced the selection of Lea County, west of the city of Hobbs, as the project location. Reasons cited were the availability of land, community support, and existing infrastructure for its choice. The other location finalist was Las Cruces in Doña Ana County. Pegasus said that the new "city" will be modeled closely on the real-life city of Rock Hill, South Carolina. Robert Brumley, Pegasus Global Holdings’ CEO, chose Rock Hill as the model when he saw it from an airplane while flying back to his office from a design meeting about the project, where the participants had discussed the need for a city that combined old and new construction materials and styles and urban and suburban growth patterns.
When the proposal was initially announced, the location for the Center was unspecified but was to be located somewhere in the state of New Mexico. The Albuquerque-Santa Fe corridor and land near Las Cruces were named as possible locations. The company said it was looking into something close to the Interstate 40/Interstate 25 corridor or the I-25/I-10 corridor to put the facility in close proximity to the national labs, the state's universities and military installations. Pegasus sought to build on public land but had received many offers from owners of private land. Robert Brumley said New Mexico was chosen in part because “the state’s leadership in science and technology, strong university system, national laboratories, military bases, renewable energy resources, developing commercial space industry, motivated work force, and land availability made New Mexico an ideal location for The Center.” The Center will make money by charging the researchers for access and through user fees. Additionally, The Center will sell its surplus of utilities, “such as power generation, water treatment, and wireless infrastructure.” A third source of revenue will be created by subleasing some of the land outside The Center for the construction of an inhabited town for visitors to The Center. Pegasus Global Holdings hopes to begin creating The Center in June 2012 and be operational by June 2014.
Pegasus Global Holdings
Washington, D.C.-based Pegasus Global Holdings estimates that the cost of construction of The Center will be about 200 million U.S. dollars. It will be one of only a few private companies to have built such a testing site. Pegasus Global Holdings also expects to create 350 jobs with this project, and indirectly create 3,500 more as a result of associated needs. The company currently has a Memorandum of Understanding with the State of New Mexico to study the project’s requirements, and plans to conduct a five-month feasibility study. The State of New Mexico, which has already been working with Pegasus Global Holdings for over a year, is assisting with this study through non-financial means.
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