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The Jicarilla Apache Nation, City of Albuquerque, PNM, and Hecate Energy celebrate progress of PNM Solar Direct solar field

Solar Direct is estimated to become operational in early 2022, dramatically increasing City’s access to renewables and cutting emissions in the region

The City of Albuquerque and leaders from Jicarilla Apache Nation, PNM, and Hecate Energy gathered to see progress on PNM Solar Direct. PNM Solar Direct construction is in its final stages with estimated completion in Winter 2022, despite supply chain disruptions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The 50-megawatt solar field is located on 500 acres of Jicarilla Apache Nation land in northern New Mexico. This is currently estimated to be one of the largest utility-scale solar projects on tribal lands in the United States. When the project goes live, an estimated 80% of the City of Albuquerque’s facilities will be powered by renewable energy, on track to reach 100% renewable by 2025. It is estimated that the project will reduce over 700,000 metric tons of Co2 over the course of its lifetime.

PNM Solar Direct® is an innovative opportunity in New Mexico allowing large electric customers to reduce their carbon footprint by voluntarily subscribing to the energy generated by the universal solar field. This 50-megawatt solar field will provide renewable power to municipalities, governmental, tribal, and educational entities as well as large commercial customers who voluntarily subscribed to the program.

“We decided not to settle for incremental progress, that's why we set a big goal for Albuquerque to become 100% renewable by 2025. Four years ago, we were at the bottom of the pack compared to other cities, today we’re on track to become one of the nation’s first across the line. It’s remarkable progress and a testament to the power of partnerships like this one as we work to fight climate change,” said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller. “We are living up to our responsibility to build a cleaner, healthier city for our families and future generations.”

“The Jicarilla Apache Nation is proud to embark in this historic relationship with the City of Albuquerque and Hecate Energy to move New Mexico forward in renewable energy, while doing our part in addressing climate issues for our communities,” said Jicarilla Apache Nation President Edward Velarde.

“This partnership with PNM and the Jicarilla Apache Nation on such an innovative, large-scale solar project is forward looking,” said City of Albuquerque Chief Operations Officer, Lawrence Rael. “It’s important that we all do our part to mitigate climate change and to make strides in sustainability every way that we can.”

“I am so proud of the City’s work to date in embracing renewable energy generation,” said City of Albuquerque Sustainability Officer, Kelsey Rader. “It is just one part of the work we have done to combat climate change in addition to adopting clean transportation and advancing energy efficiency.”

“PNM Solar Direct started with the fundamental goal of creating a sustainable energy solution for our customers to achieve their own sustainability targets. We came together and crafted a groundbreaking program that connects our customers with affordable solar energy, while ensuring that no costs are subsidized by customers who don’t participate. Through partnerships like PNM Solar Direct we can continue to light up homes and businesses across the state, provide economic development for critical areas in New Mexico, and responsibly protect our environment,” said PNM chairman, president and CEO, Pat Vincent-Collawn.

“Hecate is committed to providing the Solar Direct participants with reliable and cost-effective clean solar power using workforce and suppliers local to Northern New Mexico and from the City of Albuquerque,” said Craig Overmyer, SVP Operations, Hecate Energy. “We believe the Solar Direct program and the Jicarilla Solar 2 project provide a blueprint for how New Mexico and Albuquerque can meet environmental goals while providing opportunity for local jobs and business growth.”

A video of the site visit can be seen here.

Additional comments from PNM Solar Direct® voluntary subscribers:

“Bernalillo County is excited to be one of the first entities to participate in this program. Solar power is a clean and efficient option for power generation that fits in perfectly with Bernalillo County’s energy conservation and efficiency goals,” says Jared Divett, Director, Bernalillo County’s Fleet and Facilities Management Department.

“PNM has been a long-standing supporter and partner of Deming Public Schools and we are extremely proud of the work they have done on the Solar Direct project.  The nearing completion brings a renewed excitement for the future of energy sources in our district and community, and we are looking forward to the benefits this project brings.” – Vicki Chavez, Superintendent, Deming Public Schools.

"Santa Fe County is proud to be an integral part of Solar Direct.  As a strategic action step towards significantly reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions, the County’s 1.3 MW subscription will power half of the electricity that PNM supplies to Santa Fe County facilities with clean, renewable energy. This, when coupled with the County’s existing and planned on-site solar installations, energy efficiency projects, and fleet management policies, will serve to accelerate the achievement of our net zero emissions goal by 2050.” – Katherine Miller, County Manager, Santa Fe County.

“The Solar Direct project is a long-awaited opportunity for the City of Deming. In 2014, the City of Deming was exploring a small-scale version of this concept with our PNM partners, but with rules and regulations, it was not deemed feasible after three years in the making. The expert staff at PNM continued pursuing the concept while working with regulatory guidelines to ensure the concept was able to serve multiple customers throughout New Mexico. This innovative opportunity shows the commitment of the PNM staff to help large electrical usage customers in New Mexico. It is the first step for the City of Deming to increase its renewable energy portfolio and help the City do their part in reducing the carbon footprint in New Mexico.” - Aaron Sera, City Administrator, City of Deming.

“PNM continues to be a valuable partner in the renewable energy space with the implementation of Solar Direct. Their leadership and responsible approach to energy management is a critical component to our university’s responsibility to provide appropriate stewardship of our limited resources.” - Dr. Joseph Shepard, President, Western New Mexico University.

This project builds on the Keller Administration’s substantial work to date on sustainability, including:

  • Won a $2.7 million federal grant to bring the first electric buses to Albuquerque,
  • Signed the Paris Agreement, after President Trump pulled out, committing the city to climate action,
  • Installed 38 solar projects at city-owned buildings,
  • Launched the Green Team to expand sustainability across departments,
  • Launched the Mayor’s Energy Challenge to support local businesses reduce energy use,
  • Won Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge with funding for sustainability efforts,
  • Made the transition to more sustainable LED street lights citywide,
  • Provided over 200 homes with free energy audits and upgrades in partnership with PNM, Partnership for Community Action and Prosperity Works,
  • Partnered with PNM to launch the Solar Direct project to get to achieve over 80% renewable energy use,
  • Purchased the first electric vehicles for the City fleet, and enacted a “Zero Emissions First” fleet vehicle adoption policy,
  • Achieved LEED for Cities Silver certification,
  • Ranked 40th on the 2020 City Clean Energy Scorecard—and 5th most improved—by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE),
  • Invested $300,000 in VW settlement funding to add 18 electric charging stations in Albuquerque by Summer 2021, and
  • Launched the 2021 Climate Action Plan.