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Santa Ana Golf Club harnesses sun

Golfers like to think about harnessing power from just about any source imaginable.

Their legs, back, arms, their minds, the heavens, the wind, electrical forces, the sun.

You name it.

A golfer has tried it.

Golf courses, however, are a different story.

That has now changed in the metro area, as the Santa Ana Golf Club on the Santa Ana Pueblo installed a carport in its parking lot last month.

The 250- kilowatt port with 810 solar panels not only gives shade to a bulk of the parking area – a heckuva nice touch after spending four-to-six hours in the 90-degree New Mexico heat – but it is lighting the way, literally, for the facility.

“It’s servicing the entire campus, with the exception of our two pump stations on the golf course,” says Derek Gutierrez, the director of golf at Santa Ana. “It provides the power for the Santa Ana golf shop, the Wind Dancer Bar & Grill, the Prairie Star restaurant, the cart barn – which houses 105 electric golf carts – and the Notah Begay III Foundation building, which was our former pro shop.”

In an industry where most courses nationwide are trying to find ways to save money, Santa Ana Pueblo – which also runs Twin Warriors Golf Club – took a step to do something. Gutierrez wouldn’t say what the project cost, but said “It will take us eight-to-10 years to get a return on our investment. But we’re anxious to see our first PNM bill reflecting implementation of solar.

“… In 2014, the National Golf Foundation reported that a golf course is closing every 48 hours. That said, we’ve been extremely fortunate in this market to continue to do well by growing rounds of golf and growing revenues. It’s a challenging market, but we’re looking ahead and finding new ways of driving additional dollars to the bottom line. And being that we have a waste-water treatment plan, and we’re using reclaimed waste water, this seems like a perfect fit to start implementing solar as a way to save and be more environmentally conscious.”

Gutierrez said the Santa Ana Golf Board of Directors liked the idea, but didn’t want to put something up that would clash with the surrounding beauty of the area. So they got three local bids, and Osceola Energy met their criteria.

“This is a one-of-a-kind project,” said Adam Harper, co-owner of Osceola, which is located in Albuquerque. “It’s the only one made with the same artistic look as the area around it. It’s custom. I don’t think anyone else in state, that I know of, has anything like that; the hand-blown glass, the emblems, the paintings.

“They wanted a one-of-a-kind structure, not like the one at Costco or the airport, where those kind of have an industrial look. They’re more for functionality than aesthetics. They wanted something higher end.”