Two new solar arrays built by Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) have come online, bringing 3 MW of additional solar power to KCEC’s customer base, which includes more than 20,000 homes and 3,600 businesses.
A 1.5-MW solar array located on Northern New Mexico College’s El Rito campus became operational on December 20, and the 1.5-MW array located in Questa is operational as of January 2.
These two arrays help KCEC’s goal of powering the communities it serves with 100% solar energy during the day by 2022. KCEC set this goal when it began its partnership with Guzman Energy, a wholesale power provider who develops customized energy solutions to meet the priorities and goals of its customers. This partnership will not only enable KCEC to meet its daytime solar goal but will ultimately decrease its wholesale power costs by approximately 40%.
Construction of the El Rito array began in September 2019. Its 6,000 panels also power 850 homes and businesses. This array has revitalized the northern campus and created new opportunity for the local community, as five public school districts have come together to support a mill levy on the ballot this fall that will reintroduce career technical education at Northern to include plumbing, pipefitting and electrician training, as well as apprenticeship opportunities for local high school students.
“We are proud of our quick progress in bringing cleaner, more affordable power that provides significant benefit to our community,” said Luis Reyes Jr., CEO of KCEC. “These two solar arrays, along with another currently under construction with Guzman Energy in Taos, have supported local jobs and investment and are having tangible economic benefits to our community.”
KCEC has partnered with Guzman Energy on the construction of these arrays as part of its overall partnership agreement to help expand the co-op’s renewable energy capacity while also decreasing energy costs for its members. In addition, the arrays was built by local laborers, with each megawatt of solar power bringing roughly $1.1 million of labor and construction-related dollars to the community.
“Our work with Kit Carson has had a significant impact to its members and the community overall,” said Chris Miller, COO at Guzman Energy. “Not only will the co-op meet the requirements of the New Mexico Energy Transition Act 19 years earlier than mandated, but it will soon have among the lowest wholesale rates in the region — a huge benefit to the customers it serves.”
With these two new arrays becoming operational, KCEC now has 16 live solar arrays, bringing a total of 16.8MW of solar power to local homes and businesses. Four more arrays are in development, and once complete, KCEC will have a total of 53 MW of renewable energy, including 38 MW of solar and 15 MW of storage capacity.
News item from Kit Carson Electric Cooperative