Kit Carson Electric Cooperative took another step towards its goal of generating 100 percent daytime solar power.
KCEC, in partnership with the privately held renewable energy developer Torch Clean Energy, secured funding to develop 21MW of solar capacity and 15MW of solar storage, bringing them closer to their goal months earlier than planned.
"Kit Carson aims to be the greenest co-op in the country. The addition of these two new solar arrays gives us almost 20 solar projects within our territory, making Taos and the surrounding areas the 'Solar Capital of the World,'" said Luis Reyes Jr., chief executive officer of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative.
The new solar projects include the Taos Mesa Energy Facility, which will deliver 15MW of solar capacity and 12MW of solar storage, and the Angel Fire Energy Facility, which will deliver 6MW of solar capacity and 3MW of solar storage.
"Torch is honored to partner with Kit Carson on these two projects in support of Kit Carson's efforts to become a fully renewable-powered utility," said Jon Kilberg, president of Torch Clean Energy. "We are proud to play a role in Taos and Angel Fire's transition to a green future."
The projects received funding through CoBank, which has had a long-standing relationship with KCEC as its largest private lender.
KCEC and Torch commissioned New Mexico Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor Affordable Solar Installation to build both projects, which are expected to begin in Spring 2021 and be fully operational by the end of the year.
When the projects are completed, KCEC will surpass the 41MW required to meet its goal of 100 percent daytime solar energy, nine months ahead of schedule.
The electric cooperative, which serves nearly 30,000 members, has been building solar arrays in its service area for the past 12 years, creating a network of distributed energy in Taos, Colfax and Río Arriba counties.
When the new solar sites in Taos and Angel Fire are finished, KCEC will have a total of 53MW of renewable energy -- including 38MW of solar capacity and 15MW of solar storage.
In addition to the new solar sites, KCEC plans to install more than a dozen electric-vehicle charging stations in the Enchanted Circle. The stations will be built using grant funds offered by the USDA for improving rural transportation systems. The New Mexico Environmental Department will also provide grant funds totaling more than $200,000.
"Our future is dedicated to the stability of our young generation. We, as a community, need to invest in our future. We need to lead the way and create a sustainable, resilient future. It's our duty to the communities we serve," said Reyes.