Kit Carson Electric Cooperative has announced that with the addition of a new 1.5 MW solar array, anticipated to be completed in May 2012, all businesses and residences in north central New Mexico will receive electricity provided by solar power on sunny days. It is the largest area of land with the largest number of power consumers in New Mexico to be supplied with electricity by renewable sources. The 14-acre array will add to power already being generated from the Concentrated Photovoltaic 1 MW array built near Questa, New Mexico.
“This project represents a unique collaboration between entities that, while very different, have common goals,” said Luis Reyes, CEO of KCEC. “In addition, this array is helping create local jobs as well as provide energy independence by generating enough electricity to power 376 average New Mexico homes for an entire year.”
The new array, dubbed RCCLA Amalia Solar Array 1, was dedicated during a morning ceremony at the site located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Federal, state and local elected officials, including Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, joined the board of the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and visiting dignitaries for the ceremony.
“We are pleased to invest in this significant solar project as it supports our mission to own and operate renewable energy assets for the betterment of our environment and advancing our country’s energy independence,” said Sanjiv Mahan, Vice President of Business Development for Washington Gas Energy Systems. “We thank the RCCLA and the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative for partnering with us in this effort and look forward to being a part of additional solar projects here in New Mexico.”
The project came about through the combined efforts of: the Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association (RCCLA), a group of ranchers with a heritage that goes back hundreds of years in this remote region, and who allowed the array to be built on their land; Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, a member-owned corporation supplying electricity to the region since 1944, and is currently ranked second in the nation in solar watts per consumer; Virginia-based Washington Gas Energy Systems who will own and operate the system; and Standard Solar of Rockville, Maryland who installed the system with project management by Paradise Power Company of Taos, NM, and support from Amalia Construction Company.
The system is a 1.5 MW-DC single–axis tracking solar system consisting of 5,280 solar panels. At full capacity, it will produce approximately 1.25 MW of AC power, with an expected annual output of more than 2.9 million kilowatt hours. When completed, the solar array will cover more than 15.5 football fields and the carbon offsets will be equivalent to planting 221 acres of forest.