New Mexico Fire Station Uses PPA To Go Solar
May 2012 - Energy Efficiency
The Village of Corrales, N.M., has taken an important step in becoming more energy efficient thanks to a new photovoltaic solar system recently installed at the main fire station.
Firefighters for the Village are now using energy from the sun for their electricity needs. The 22,560-watt system consists of 96 poly-crystalline solar panels from Schüco and four inverters. The system is expected to produce more than 46,400 kilowatt hours of electricity per year for the station offsetting approximately 25% of the station’s electrical consumption.
The fire station is the third of three municipal PV system installations. Other systems include Village Hall and the Senior Center. Village officials approved these and the fire station solar roofing projects as part of their five-year infrastructure capital improvements plan (ICIP).
According to Village Administrator, John Avila, “a key requirement of this project was that the municipality wouldn’t incur debt from the solar electric systems.” With that pre-requisite, the Village issued an RFP seeking proposals from solar firms that would design, buy, finance and operate the systems on municipal property. The selected firm would resell power to the Village at discounted rates by using renewable energy credits acquired by the Village.
3CSolar of Portland, Ore., was the solar energy financing firm that met the Village’s requirements. The company will finance the 90 kilowatts of capacity through a 20 year Purchase Power Agreement (PPA). Under the PPA, 3CSolar owns the system and sells electricity back to the Village at a rate less expensive than the local utility currently charges. The PPA includes an escalation factor of 3 percent per year to help ensure that the Village will pay no more than current market rates for electricity, according to Kirk Cameron, co-owner and managing principal of 3CSolar. The Village anticipates a savings of $30,000 by the 20th year of the contract.
Village of Corrales officials recently inaugurated the fire station solar cutover. “The Village looks forward to reducing our energy costs, improving our energy efficiency and continuing to provide superior firefighting and public safety capabilities through renewable energy solutions” said Avila. “Our investment in this project is an investment in the Village’s clean energy future.”