Rural Co-op Invests in Solar Plus Storage Systems

New Mexico’s Kit Carson Electric Cooperative will boost its solar portfolio by 21 megawatts in two projects, each with its complimentary storage facility.
Image by Sabine van Erp via Pixabay

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and Torch Clean Energy have signed an agreement to acquire and build two new solar arrays in Kit Carson County, N.M., totaling 21 megawatts and complementary storage facilities for 15 megawatts. Upon completing these installations, KCEC will surpass the capacity needed to meet its goal of 100 percent daytime solar energy, nine months ahead of the set date (the year 2022). The announcement bodes well with The Energy Transition Act—the state’s legislation that targets rural electric cooperatives and demands they get at least half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

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The request for proposal KCEC and its partner Guzman Energy issued earlier this year for solar plus storage, found the solution in Torch Clean Energy’s proposition: two solar and storage capacity facilities at two different locations within the KCEC territory that combined exceed the requested capacity. Specifically, Angel Fire will deliver 6MW of solar power and have 3MW of storage capacity, while Taos Mesa will produce 15MW of solar with 12MW of storage capacity. The installations also mark the first implementation of storage in Kit Carson County.

KCEC and Guzman partnered in 2016 and since then they have completed the first phase of solar projects in Eagle Nest, Picuris Pueblo in Penasco and Tres Piedras. Moreover, work is well underway on the construction of the second phase of Sunshine (north of Questa), on the Northern New Mexico College campus in El Rito and at the Taos Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in Taos, which combined increase KCEC’s solar energy capacity by 17 megawatts. In addition to the solar portfolio expansion, the partnership has also brought KCEC cost savings of $70 million.

Kit Carson is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative in northern New Mexico formed in 1944. It is one of the 16 electric cooperatives that serve rural New Mexico communities, serving nearly 30,000 members in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba counties and the second-largest in the state.