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The Jicarilla Apache Nation, City of Albuquerque, PNM, and proud partners celebrate groundbreaking of a universal solar field

Innovative partnership brings affordable and abundant solar energy to the state

This morning leaders from around the state participated in a virtual Watch Party for the groundbreaking of the PNM Solar Direct® universal solar field. The groundbreaking provided a glimpse of the 50-megawatt solar field located on 500 acres of Jicarilla Apache Nation land in northern New Mexico. This is the first utility-scale solar project on Jicarilla Apache Nation land and the third largest solar project on tribal lands in the United States.

View a video of the PNM Solar Direct® Groundbreaking at:

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.

“Our journey began many years ago, with the foresight and wisdom of our tribal leaders to exercise our energy sovereignty and create a vision of developing our tribally owned utility authority,” said Jicarilla Apache Nation President Edward Velarde. “Envisioning an energy future, on our terms, has led us to an innovative and unique partnership between Hecate Energy, PNM, the City of Albuquerque and other governmental, educational and business entities. The Jicarilla Apache Nation is now a proven leader in the development of renewable energy. We are blessed to celebrate this important milestone.”

“We’re building this innovative partnership with the Jicarilla Apache Nation and PNM as part of our commitment to renewable energy on a massive scale. It’s our responsibility to build a cleaner, healthier future,” said City of Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller. “With projects like this one, we’re making Albuquerque a national leader as a city committed to 100% renewable energy.”

“Today’s groundbreaking highlights New Mexico’s solar energy potential and celebrates the remarkable partnership formed in pursuit of a common goal,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM chairman, president and CEO. “As PNM takes another step forward toward its goal to deliver emissions-free energy, we commend the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Albuquerque Mayor Keller, Western New Mexico University and our other partners in the PNM Solar Direct program for building new economic opportunities and moving New Mexico forward as a clean energy leader. We are leading by example and demonstrating that we can do more by working together.”

The groundbreaking included speeches from Jicarilla Apache Nation President Edward Velarde, City of Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, Western New Mexico University President Dr. Joseph Shepard, Hecate Energy, the project’s developer, Vice President of Operations, Craig Overmyer, and PNM chair, president and CEO, Pat Vincent-Collawn.

PNM Solar Direct® voluntary subscribers: City of Albuquerque, Walmart, Santa Fe County, Bernalillo County, Western New Mexico University, the City of Deming, Deming Public Schools, Grant County and Silver City.

Additional comments from PNM Solar Direct® voluntary subscribers.

“Bernalillo County is proud to be a part of this collaboration with PNM and all the other participating agencies, supporting renewable energy for New Mexico,” says Bernalillo County Deputy County Manager for Public Works Elias Archuleta. “Attaining zero emissions by 2040 is a great goal for PNM and Bernalillo County wants to part of reaching that goal through this solar array program and more green efforts in the future.”

“Deming Public Schools is proud to be a part of the partnership with PNM and the Solar Direct Project. The future of clean energy is now, and the students of DPS will benefit from these efforts for decades to come. Thank you to PNM and their forward thinking in bringing a better learning environment to our students.” - Dr. Arsenio Romero, School Superintendent for the Deming Public Schools

“The County appreciates partnering with PNM on this program to help us meet our renewable energy goals in a shorter time frame. We look forward to more collaboration with PNM and other stakeholders in implementing other carbon-free energy opportunities, such as passing community solar legislation.” - Santa Fe County District 4 County Commissioner Anna T. Hamilton

“The PNM Solar Direct program and solar field demonstrate the power of collaboration towards a shared goal of renewable energy coupled with economic development opportunities for New Mexico communities,” said Steve Chriss, Director, Energy Service at Walmart.  “Walmart’s participation in this program will contribute to our target of zero emissions across our global operations by 2040 and our goal to power 100% of our operations with renewable energy by 2035.”

“The solar direct program is an example of what happens when leaders in renewable energy work together to achieve a better outcome,” said Joseph Shepard, president of Western New Mexico University. “PNM is leading through their investment and renewable energy implementation in making New Mexico a state that shows what a sustainable future looks like.”

A virtual groundbreaking was held to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. PNM, the City of Albuquerque, and all partners remain optimistic for a healthy and in-person ribbon cutting celebration.