New Mexico’s First Community-Owned Solar Garden Project
Monday, June 04, 2012
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For immediate release: June 4, 2012

New Mexico’s First Community-Owned Solar Gardens Launched

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and Clean Energy Collective
Partner to Provide Community Solar to NM Residents

Steve Fuhlendorf, Public Information Officer
Kit Carson Electric Cooperative
Office: (575) 758-2258 Ext. 143

Tom Sweeney, Chief Operating Officer
Clean Energy Collective
Office: (800) 646-0323

Click here for printable PDF version

[Taos, NM] — Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC), Taos, NM and the Clean Energy Collective (CEC), Carbondale, CO, have entered into a 1.2 megawatt agreement to launch New Mexico’s first community-owned solar gardens. The community solar projects will allow utility customers to purchase solar panels located in community arrays, with the first phase being constructed at Taos Charter School in Taos, NM.

Clean Energy Collective pioneered the community solar model for clean energy production, which allows community members to purchase solar panels located in solar gardens to offset their electricity use. CEC constructs and maintains the solar gardens, and the local utility company agrees to acquire the power from the community arrays. Consumers receive the same tax credits and electricity discounts as they would if the panels were installed on their roofs. CEC warranties the panels for 50 years, so consumers don’t have to worry about construction, maintenance or repair.

Historically, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative has been a national leader in clean energy production, so it is not surprising that they have become a leader in community solar as well. KCEC is ranked second among cooperatives in the nation in solar usage per consumer and fourth in total solar production. Over ten years ago the Town of Taos was officially proclaimed “Solar Capital of the World” by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

The community solar concept allows all consumers to utilize clean renewable energy, including renters, those with poorly sighted properties and individuals of all income levels, without having to build a costly system of their own. Owners of community solar panels reap the benefits directly on their monthly electric bills through KCEC.

The first community-owned solar gardens will be located at Taos area schools, including the Taos Charter School, which has been instrumental in promoting the community solar garden concept locally.

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Community Solar
Simulation of Future Taos Charter School Community Solar Array

The community solar arrays will be constructed on solar carports, mounting 420 solar panels on top of a sturdy canopy structure. Solar carports are easy to maintain and also serve to protect automobiles from the weather as well as provide a convenient place to charge electric vehicles. The first community solar arrays will produce approximately 160,000_kWh of clean energy per year.

The construction contracts have been awarded to local area resident Mark Johnson of Sol Luna Solar located in Dixon, NM. Construction will be completed by June 30, 2012. Reservations for panels are now being accepted. KCEC customers may purchase panels for $845 and will receive monthly bill credits for the power produced by their panels.

Luis Reyes, CEO of KCEC, says: “At KCEC we are very proud of our leadership among electric cooperatives in solar adoption. Partnering with Clean Energy Collaborative, a national leader in providing community solar, makes sense for us as we move to a new level of making solar energy affordable and available to all our members.”

“Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and Taos Charter School are the ideal partners for the first community solar projects in New Mexico,” says Paul Spencer, Clean Energy Collective founder and president. “KCEC’s commitment to renewable energy and the enthusiasm of the school’s parents, students and teachers is remarkable and will certainly ensure the program’s success. We are honored to help them complete these projects that they have envisioned for so long and to launch KCEC’s community solar program.”

Mary Emery, a local parent who spearheaded the campaign to bring community solar to Taos Charter School says, “We are so excited to have Taos Charter School become the site of the first community-owned solar garden in New Mexico. We want to teach our students that the use of clean, renewable energy can be a normal way of life. We hope to see many more community-owned solar gardens in the future.”

KCEC member-customers can learn more at the upcoming KCEC Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 9, 2012 at the Taos High School Gymnasium with registration beginning at 8am and the business meeting starting at 9:30am. At the Annual Meeting, members can also enter a raffle to win a free solar panel in the community arrays. Additional information is also available online at

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) is a member owned Electric Distribution Cooperative. KCEC is one of 13 electric cooperatives that serve rural New Mexico communities, and one of 44 distribution cooperatives receiving power from Tri-State Generation and Transmission, of Denver, Colorado. KCEC serves over 29,497 members in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba Counties. Formed in 1944, KCEC is the second largest cooperative in the State of New Mexico.

Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective is a developer of community-based renewable energy facilities and a national leader in community power generation. CEC has pioneered the model of delivering clean power-generation through large-scale facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers. The CEC’s proprietary RemoteMeterĀ® system automatically calculates monthly credits and integrates with existing utility billing systems, enabling all utility customers to easily have clean, renewable power credited directly on their monthly utility bills, without modifying their home or office.

CEC has community solar partnerships with many other utilities and is working on dozens of other community solar projects nationally and internationally.

Kit Carson Cooperative Community Solar

Clean Energy Collective
Phone: 1-800-646-0323



CEC / KCEC Joint Press Release PDF