Google Lease for Titan Aerospace Plant Approved

Officials are close to finalizing a deal for the state to appropriate nearly $1 million to Moriarty to run water and sewer lines to property leased by Google for an eventual 60,000-square-foot building where Titan Aerospace will produce its solar-powered drones. The Moriarty City Council will hold a special meeting Friday to consider an ordinance that would finalize a deal among the city, the state Economic Development Department and Google to construct infrastructure to the Moriarty Municipal Airport.

The council approved a five-year lease with Google at its regular meeting July 23.

“The state Economic Development Department really stepped up to help a small community, and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate that,” Mayor Ted Hart said. “We’re excited and we’re looking forward to this relationship with Google and the state.”

Hart said state Rep. Vickie Perea, R-Belen, was instrumental in getting the deal done in about three weeks.

Google, which started construction on its building at the airport last week, is there because of the company’s purchase of Titan Aerospace in April.

Titan, which started operating in Moriarty in 2012, touts its solar-powered drones as an inexpensive replacement for communications satellites.

Rather than fly into space, the drones would fly to near-orbit altitude of about 65,000 feet. That’s higher than planes normally fly and much lower than where satellites generally operate.

The drones are embedded with thousands of photovoltaic cells, which power the aircraft during the day while storing energy in onboard battery banks to continue operating at night. That will allow the craft to remain continuously airborne for up to five years, according to Titan.

Google will pay about $40,000 the first year of the lease on a 650-by-650-foot parcel on the airport’s west side. The payment will go up to about $42,000 a year in subsequent years of the lease.

For the infrastructure improvements, Google was required to agree to a “substantive contribution.” Google has agreed to employ at least 35 people by November 2017 with wages in the annual range of $40,000 to $350,000. The proposed agreement would protect the state with clawbacks.

Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela, in a statement, said he and the governor were thrilled Google found in New Mexico “an attractive place to invest.”

Sources: Albuquerque Journal, KRQE

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