Work could begin later this spring on the construction of a 50-megawatt solar project that will go up on the northern New Mexico lands of the Jicarilla Apache Nation.
The project, which is expected to cost around $60 million to build, will upon completion provide enough energy for up to 14,000 homes on an annual basis.
Uniquely, the project is a part of the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s PNM Direct Solar program that includes a partnership with the cities of Albuquerque, Deming, and Silver City, not to mention the counties of Grant and Santa Fe.
Institutional partners include the Deming Public Schools and Western New Mexico University.
The idea behind the Direct Solar program is to provide service for such large electric consumers as municipalities and government entities. In so doing, the program will help those entities both meet their own clean energy goals while reducing their carbon footprint.
The Jicarilla Apache Tribe is expected to receive around $1.5 million in lease payments for allowing the project on its land.
The Jicarilla Apache have previously partnered on large energy projects through its Jicarilla Oil and Gas Administration with the condition that any project must provide due regard for land management, road maintenance, and grazing rights.
The Direct Solar/Jicarilla Apache project has now won the unanimous approval of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and is expected to be completed by early next year.
By Garry Boulard
Get stories like these right to your inbox.