Proposals seek to make Red River green(er)

Red River’s recycling bins at the Municipal Parking Lot, located off Jacks & Sixes and River Street. (Chronicle file photo)

Red River town officials heard two separate proposals that would ultimately contribute to making Northern New Mexico greener, though cost may be a sticking point for one.

During the May, 3, Town Council Meeting, Francisco “French” Espinoza, Director of Town of Taos Public Works, gave a presentation on behalf of the Regional Landfill Board regarding a Recycling Center operations fee proposal.

Espinoza shared data about the Town of Taos’ recycling center, notably, 4,357 tons or 12.2% of total solid waste was recycled in 2016.

  • 43% cardboard
  • 24% glass
  • 18% newspaper
  • 4% plastic
  • 3% solid white ledger
  • 3% phone books
  • 2% steel
  • 2% electronic waste
  • 1% aluminum, and
  • 0% mixed paper

“Mixed paper is actually six tons,” Espinoza said.

The challenge, Espinoza said, is twofold: Even with subsidies from the town of Taos, the recycling center loses money, and the current landfill, or cell, is expected to fill by 2021. It costs over $2 million to develop a new cell, while, at the current rate of recycling would save 10.25 months of airspace or $254,610.

Espinoza is asking members of the Taos Regional Landfill to add a recycling fee to solid waste disposal bills with the hope of paying a prorated total annual fee ranging from $3,565 for the Village of Taos Ski Valley to $60,507 for the Town of Taos.

With Red River’s solid waste amounts to 6 percent of total waste at the landfill so its proposed annual fee would be $17,779.

Espinoza said participation by members would help recycling break even or possibly make a profit. “If it ends up making a profit, may come up with programs that will benefit the communities.”

He listed some 5-year initiatives that could be made possible with recycling fees, including, free tipping for tires, mulching, composting, etc.

Mayor Linda Calhoun said, “Council needs to talk about how we’re going to charge our customers. That $17,000 is a lot for us.”

Asked what the timeframe for making a decision was, Espinosa responded, “The board was hoping a decision would be made by July 1.”

Red River already offers recycling of its own with bins available at the Municipal Parking Lot, located off Jacks & Sixes and River Street (behind Mike’s Fun Place).

Kit Carson Co-op seeks to bring solar to town

Luis Reyes, Chief Executive Officer, for Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, along with board members Bobby Ortega, District 2, and Bruce Jassman, District 5, discussed the co-op’s ongoing efforts to meet its goal to be 100-percent solar by 2020

“About 10 percent of Kit Carson’s energy is solar,” Reyes said, noting, “Everything from Questa north is all solar [using a 2.5 megawatt (MW) solar array]. We’re asking you to participate with us in the planning to bring solar to Red River. Let’s figure out a lease for unused land. We have a similar proposal with the Village of Angel Fire and one at Eagle Nest Lake. Red River and Taos Ski Valley are the two we really haven’t asked yet. the challenge in your communities are the narrow valleys. In Angel Fire, our biggest problem is elk.”

Calhoun said, “We don’t have any land but we could do the parking structure behind town hall and on top of town hall and the library. It would be nice to do something at the treatment plant.”

Reyes said the co-op would pay a lease to put solar cells in town. Calhoun asked, “How does this work? Do you guys put in the structure cause you’re selling the power?”

Reyes responded, “This is the structure we’re putting together for municipalities. Our proposal is we own and control the solar cells and then we pay lease payments. We’ll start the planning then come back and do another presentation.”

Reminder for board election

Bobby Ortega reminded council, “There’s a election next Thursday for the board,” adding, “We would like to have a polling place in Red River but we missed it for this year.”

Of 11 board seats, four are up for election. The District 2 race — Red River, Questa, Cerro, Costilla, Amalia, La Lama and El Rito — drew three nominees for two spots. Ortega is running for re-election, Bernie Torres is a former member of the Questa school board, and Daryl Ortega is a sitting school board member.

District 2 elections are Thursday (May 11) at the village of Questa offices, 2500 Old State Road 3. Voting is to begin after a 9 a.m. business meeting and continues until 7 p.m. Only members of the co-op can vote in the board elections and are on a “one meter, one vote” basis.

For questions, call Kit Carson Electric Cooperative at 575-758-2258.

Dignitaries gather for the dedication of RCCLA Amalia 1 Solar Array (from left): KCEC board of trustees members Toby Martinez & Arthur Rodarte, Virgil Martinez; Senator Tom Udall representative Michele Jacquez-Ortiz; Tom Tatum; KCEC board president, Bobby Ortega; NM State Representative, Roberto (Bobby Gonzales; U.S. Congressman, Ben Ray Lujan, KCEC board member, Ambrose Mascarenas; RCCLA president, Billy Vigil; KCEC CEO, Luis Reyes; KCEC board member, Bruce Jassman; Tony Clifford, CEO Standard Solar; Scott Waiter, Standard Solar; Nate Greenburg, Washington Gas & Energy Systems; Matt Hankey, Standard Solar; KCEC Board members, Jerry Smith & Manuel Medina and District Judge Sarah Backus. (Courtesy photo)