New Mexico Building Fake City to Test Alternative Energy

This isn’t a joke:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico, home to several of the nation’s premier scientific, nuclear and military institutions, is planning to take part in an unprecedented science project — a 20-square-mile model of a small U.S. city.

A Washington, D.C.-based technology company announced plans Tuesday to build the state’s newest ghost town to test everything from renewable energy innovations to intelligent traffic systems, next-generation wireless networks and smart-grid cyber security systems.

Although no one will live there, the replica city will be modeled after a typical American town of 35,000 people, complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings, old and new.

Pegasus Global Holdings CEO Bob Brumley says the $200 million project, known as The Center, will be a first of its kind in the U.S., creating a place for scientists at the state’s universities, federal labs and military installations to test their innovations for upgrading cities to 21st century green technology and infrastructure in a real world setting.

It will also enable them to rub shoulders with investors, meaning it could ultimately draw enough new businesses to give the state a technology corridor like that in California’s Silicon Valley or Virginia’s Reston, Brumley said.

But don’t worry, this plan will make money:

Brumley said the ghost town will make money by charging user and operation and maintenance fees, selling energy to the grid by subleasing some of its state land for the development of office buildings, hotels and restaurants.

Gov. Susana Martinez said the state is committed to working with Brumley.

“I am confident this innovative project would provide a great boost to New Mexico’s economy,” she said in a statement. “We are pleased to be able to offer the resources, open spaces, and talented workforce required to make this effort a success.”

Maybe once the project goes bust, the Air Force can use the town to test new bombs.

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