Municipally-Owned Utility Generates 10% of Energy from Solar
The City of Gallup is the third largest municipally-owned utility in New Mexico in terms of energy sales and second in terms of total electric customers, providing electric services for approximately 11,000 accounts in the greater Gallup area.
Standard Solar financed, owns and operates a 9.8 megawatt solar project to provide power to the City of Gallup. The single-axis tracker array, constructed on approximately 31 acres of city-owned land south of Interstate Highway 40, generates approximately 20 million kilowatt-hours of power annually providing nearly 10% of the city’s energy use. The solar farm will generate enough electricity to power 2,500 homes and offset production of 3,500,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
Mangan Renewables, a division of Mangan Inc., which provides renewable energy solutions for customers nationwide developed the project in partnership with Wiser Capital and their proprietary underwriting platform.
“Gallup is the ideal site for solar generation, so connecting Mangan and Wiser’s underwriting to make sure this project got financed was a priority for us,” said Scott Wiater, President and CEO of Standard Solar. “This project gave us the opportunity to leverage every aspect of our expertise, from financing to engineering to construction. It’s these kinds of ‘let’s work together and get it done’ projects that our entire team enjoys.”
Standard Solar negotiated a power-purchase agreement that did not require any upfront cost to complete the installation of the solar power plant. Even better, the city will pay the solar firm a flat rate for the production generated by the system over 20 years.
Award-Winning Project Design Overcame Unique Floodplain Challenges
Standard Solar supported this project in all phases of development, including engineering.
The land for the array was located in a 100-year floodplain, which meant designing a system to withstand the conditions created by a flood of that magnitude. The Standard Solar engineering team provided their expertise to make sure the PV array was elevated to prevent maximum expected flood waters from reaching the PV modules and other critical electrical components. Additionally, the ground clearance of the PV array, when at maximum tilt, ranges from 3 ft. on the east side to 6 ft. on the west side. The inverters and combiner boxes were also all installed at heights designed to exceed maximum water levels.
“This array will have a huge impact on the City of Gallup and its future,” says Richard Matzke, Gallup electric director. “When the opportunity to protect our environment and save our citizens’ money presented itself, we were thrilled to take advantage. We appreciate everyone involved in the project for helping us bring it to fruition.”
The ability to work a finance deal like Standard Solar did for [the city of] Gallup is rare in the solar industry, and without it, this project would never have been done. Secondly, their excellent engineering team worked with the EPC involved to craft a solution to the floodplain problem. The result is really something to see.