Join officials from Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Guzman Energy and around the area for a ribbon-cutting celebration for the newly constructed 1MW solar array 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesday (July 25) at 28458 Highway 64 (near Eagle Nest Lake).
The structure — which features more than 4,000 panels overlooking Eagle Nest Lake — was constructed thanks to a partnership among Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC), Guzman Energy, Parasol Solar and Syncarpha Capital.
The array — which will serve upwards of 2,000 Kit Carson members in the Moreno Valley and surrounding area — begins testing in late-July in advance of an Aug. 13 commercial operation date.
Via an exclusive partnership with Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Guzman Energy is working to achieve summer-solar energy independence in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba counties by 2022. In February 2017, Guzman Energy announced an exclusive partnership with Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) to generate renewable energy to cover 100 percent of the daytime load for Northern New Mexico, with the goal of saving the co-ops’ 30,000 members $50 million to $70 million over the next 10 years.
In April this year, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) announced it had been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to participate in a collaborative research effort to explore new ways solar energy can improve the affordability, reliability, and resiliency of the rural electric grid.
There are more than 900 electric cooperatives in the United States, covering approximately two thirds of the land mass with more than 42 million electric meters, many of which are evaluating the opportunities and value of deploying renewable energy for their members. KCEC is one of just nine teams selected to join the program, which is known as the Solar Energy Innovation Network.
“KCEC has been working towards providing resilient, renewable energy for all our members equally since 2002,” said Luis A. Reyes, CEO, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc. “The importance of this work is to demonstrate that renewable energy can be technically integrated into a rural grid in a way that allows all members access to renewable energy, rather than only a few members. This project will provide a pathway for other rural cooperatives, municipalities and communities to enter into the deployment of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) given the fast pace of the changing market and member desires.”
The Solar Energy Innovation Network will provide financial, analytical, and facilitation support as KCEC works to anticipate and address new challenges and opportunities stemming from solar energy and other distributed energy technologies for the Enchanted Circle in Northern New Mexico.
The solutions developed and demonstrated by KCEC will serve as a blueprint for other communities facing similar challenges and opportunities. The goal is to demonstrate that solar and battery storage can play a significant role in the energy mix thereby minimizing reliance on fossil fuels. The intent is to build a broader model that enables rural electric cooperatives to integrate renewable energy with storage into their portfolios for increased resiliency.
Specifically, KCEC’s project will create an energy roadmap to develop up to 35 megawatts (MW) in small solar arrays by 2022 that will result in providing 34 percent of the total electricity demand – and 100% during daylight hours on sunny days. KCEC will also implement a battery technology demonstration project, thus further advancing the Solar Energy Innovation Network’s objectives.
KCEC currently has approximately nine MWs of solar renewables online, which accounts for 24 percent of the daytime load. An additional 10 MWs of solar energy are planned and scheduled for construction in 2018. These solar arrays—ranging between one and three MWs—will be placed strategically in KCEC’s extensive service territory for optimal performance.