A plan to build and operate a solar array at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) is closer to reality after the Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved an agreement that would move the project forward. “I have embraced this concept from the beginning and it has been a long time in coming,” says Commissioner Michael Wiener. “It is an effective and creative use of the land on which MDC sits.”
On Tuesday night commissioners approved a purchase agreement with SunEdison, a solar company based out of California. SunEdison will be responsible for the design, construction and operation of the 999 kilowatt ground mounted system. During the construction phase, SunEdison will employ between 20 and 40 local workers.
This solar electric project will produce about 20 percent of the total electricity needed to power the jail. The other 80 percent will continue to be supplied by PNM. Over the life of the project, MDC will save an estimated $337,000 in utility costs. The rate paid to SunEdison will be a flat rate, so that there will greater savings over time. The county will pay SunEdison $.0606 per kilowatt hour of electricity generated by the system. “This project is just the first of many potential cost-savings strategies at the MDC,” says Commissioner Wiener. “It has opened the doors to new possibilities.”
The Public Facility Energy Efficiency and Water Conservation Act allows the county to enter into the 20-year agreement with SunEdison. Because MDC will be receiving its electricity through the solar project and PNM, an interconnection agreement must be approved by PNM. Upon approval, the design and construction of the project is expected to take approximately 8 months.
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