Yesterday, a virtual Watch Party was held for the groundbreaking of the PNM Solar Direct universal solar field. Watch Party attendees got a glimpse of the 50-megawatt (MW) solar field located on 500 acres of Jicarilla Apache Nation land in northern New Mexico. This is the first utility-scale solar project on Jicarilla Apache Nation land and the third largest solar project on tribal lands in the United States.
PNM Solar Direct allows large electric customers to subscribe to the energy generated by the solar field so that municipalities, governmental, tribal and educational entities, as well as large commercial customers can begin using solar energy to power their operations. PNM Solar Direct voluntary subscribers include the City of Albuquerque, Walmart, Santa Fe County, Bernalillo County, Western New Mexico University, the City of Deming, Deming Public Schools, Grant County and Silver City.
“Our journey began many years ago, with the foresight and wisdom of our tribal leaders to exercise our energy sovereignty and create a vision of developing our tribally owned utility authority,” said Jicarilla Apache Nation President Edward Velarde. “Envisioning an energy future, on our terms, has led us to an innovative and unique partnership between Hecate Energy, PNM, the City of Albuquerque and other governmental, educational and business entities.”
“Today’s groundbreaking highlights New Mexico’s solar energy potential and celebrates the remarkable partnership formed in pursuit of a common goal,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM chairman, president and CEO. “As PNM takes another step forward toward its goal to deliver emissions-free energy, we commend the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Albuquerque Mayor Keller, Western New Mexico University and our other partners in the PNM Solar Direct program for building new economic opportunities and moving New Mexico forward as a clean energy leader.”
A virtual groundbreaking was held to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. PNM, the City of Albuquerque, and all partners remain optimistic for a healthy and in-person ribbon cutting celebration in the future.