KCEC 1 MW solar array comes online in Tres Piedras

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A 1-megawatt solar array in Tres Piedras started soaking in the sun and pumping power to the grid last week.

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative announced the completion of the solar array in an Aug. 4 press release.

The co-op announced plans earlier this year to eventually provide its 30,000 members with 100 percent renewable energy. The Tres Piedras solar array is the first of seven Kit Carson Electric Cooperative plans to build this year. The co-op has said it will build 35 small solar arrays within five years as part of its partnership with Guzman Renewable Energy Partners, a Florida-based firm.

Before Kit Carson could move ahead with its ambitious renewable plan, the co-op first had to end a 40-year contract with its former power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which capped the amount of solar energy the co-op could produce in its three-county service area. The co-op still has to pay millions of dollars to Tri-State – a point of contention with some of the cooperative’s critics.

“This array is one more success in providing KCEC members with green, renewable energy,” said Michael Santistevan, public relations coordinator with the co-op. The Tres Piedras array and other arrays already in place throughout Taos County, such as those in Costilla and at the University of New Mexico-Taos Klauer Campus, are responsible for 20 percent of the power Kit Carson distributes to members.

Ground has been broken at a solar facility at Picuris Pueblo. Contracts to build small solar arrays in Eagle Nest, Angel Fire and El Rito have been finalized, according to the co-op.

– Staff report

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John Lapin

I support the Co-ops move to Solar and the goal of becoming 100 per cent day time Solar in a few years. However, I have a question for Mr. Santistevan about his comment that the arrays currently in place "...are responsible for 20 per cent of the power Kit Carson distributes to members." Is this true? Closer examination of these arrays seems to show that the power generated goes into the grid, not into Taos County user's meters. Is a more accurate statement something like "these arrays generate power EQUAL TO 20 per cent of the power Kit Carson distributes to members?" Is it true that KCEC currently distributes generated from a variety of sources which is purchased "wholesale" from the electrical power broker company run by Mr. Guzman? These questions are meant for clarity and not a criticism. KCEC is heading in the right direction and I look for forward to 100 per cent day time solar in a few years time.

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