Solar Farm Helps New Mexico Electrical Coop Meet Renewable Energy Mandate

According to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements for rural electric cooperatives dictate that renewable energy must comprise of no less than 5 percent of retail sales to New Mexico customers by 2015, increasing at a rate of 1 percent annually until 2020, at which time it will be 10 percent. In addition to the RPS, coops are also required to offer a voluntary renewable energy program to their customers provided their supplier makes renewable resources available.

In order to meet the Commission’s requirements, and provide cost-effective renewable energy to its customers, MSMEC looked toward the clear benefits of solar energy. Having recently completed a successful solar project for Kit Carson Electrical Cooperative in nearby Taos County, national solar energy company Standard Solar was the ideal partner to help MSMEC’s solar project come to fruition.

Partnerships With Local Contractors Brings Local Employment Opportunities

Standard Solar and local solar developer, Ute Peak Solar, co-developed a 1.8 Megawatt, ground-mounted solar array in Las Vegas, approximately two miles east of the Cooperative’s Storrie Lake Substation. The array provides approximately 5 percent of MSMEC’s load with locally produced clean energy and makes up half of its renewable energy mandate through 2020.

Standard Solar used Energy Concepts, a local Sapello, NM electrical contractor and solar installer, as the local general contractor and system installer bringing employment and revenue to the Las Vegas economy.

The 6,336 panel solar array sits on the same land that was once a major trading stop at the end of the Santa Fe Trail and the one-time Southwestern regional headquarters for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. With an expected annual output of more than 3.5 million kilowatt hours (enough to power 223 homes for one year), it is forecasted to provide the Cooperative and its ratepayers energy savings of nearly $500,000 over the life of the agreement.