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Keller: 100% renewable energy goal in sight

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Mayor Tim Keller on Wednesday announced a plan that would move the City of Albuquerque toward what he called 100 percent renewable, clean energy within four years.

A major piece of that plan is to team with Public Service Company of New Mexico, which would build a new solar generating station to boost the amount of renewable energy used to power city-owned facilities.

Under the agreement with PNM, the city will purchase 25 megawatts of the electricity that would be generated by the proposed 50-megawatt solar plant.

Purchase of the 25 megawatts will move the city to covering 58 percent of its energy needs for facilities, compared to 4 percent currently covered by renewable energy.

The remaining 25 megawatts generated by the new solar plant would be available to other municipalities and entities through PNM’s Solar Direct Program.

The plant would require state regulatory approval.

“This began when I signed the (Climate Paris Agreement) when I first took office, but it also means we cannot wait any longer to do all that we can to try and combat the damage caused by climate change to our environment, our economy and our way of life,” Keller said. “It also means taking concrete steps to reduce our carbon footprint, and also put Albuquerque on a more sustainable path and reducing the cost of that very electricity bill.”

By participating as a power purchaser in the PNM program, the city is also expected to save money in utility payments over the long term. The city spends about $1.2 million a month to power city buildings, Keller said.

“PNM is excited to work with the city and Mayor Keller in support of the ongoing transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy resources,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, chairman, president and CEO of PNM. “Taking advantage of new technology to bring renewable energy to the city of Albuquerque and all PNM customers is another important step toward creating the innovative, sustainable and interconnected community that we all envision.”

PNM will issue a request for proposals to build the plant, Vincent-Collawn said.

The cost and location have yet to be determined.

Keller earlier issued an executive order requiring new city facilities to use higher energy building standards. And the city launched a Green Team Initiative to promote sustainability across all city departments.

Keller said reducing energy use and installing solar panels on city buildings are also part of the city’s road map to 100 percent renewable energy.

“Once fully implemented by 2022, these efforts will amount to removing the equivalent of 93,000 metric tons of (carbon dioxide) emissions every year,” according to a city news release. “This reduction is about the same as taking almost 20,000 cars off the road in a year.”

Earlier this year, city officials announced the initial phase of a $25 million investment for a solar panel installation project at 12 city-owned buildings, which included seven city fire stations, Ladera Golf Course, the main Albuquerque Public Library, and the Albuquerque Police Academy and Forensics Lab.

A second phase has begun with panel installations taking place at the Los Griegos Community Center, Museum of Albuquerque, Old Police Department Building, Pino Yards, Senior Multi-service Center on 7th Street, Balloon Fiesta Park Restaurant, Central Unser Library, North Domingo Baca Multi-generational Center, Cherry Hills Library, Karsten Meal Site, Botanical Garden Aquatic Center and the Rio Grande Zoo.

A third phase will include panels at the Albuquerque Convention Center and nine other city buildings.

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