Normally when the phrase ‘the best-laid plans’ is used in a sentence it means something went wrong with that planning. In some cases though, the ‘best-laid plans’ can actually turn out to be even better than expected. That is exactly the case for a New Mexico Solar Cooperative’s almost completed solar farm project. They signed a contract to deliver the electric power they will produce with that solar farm for what is believed to be a record low rate for solar farm distributed power.
This is great news for many other small electric cooperatives across the nation that have been looking into building similar type solar farm projects of their own.
The Carrizozo, New Mexico Solar Farm Project
This 3-megawatt (MW) producing solar farm, named the Carrizozo solar farm project, is being built in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Chicago based solar energy company SoCore Energy LLC is in charge of the construction of this large scale solar farm project. Once this solar farm starts producing electricity, it will then be sold and distributed by the Otero County Electric Cooperative (OCEC) which donated the land the solar farm was built on.
Under the terms of the 25-year long solar farm power purchasing agreement, the energy that is produced by the Carrizozo solar farm project will be sold at an incredibly low price of just $0.045 per kWh. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) this is the lowest price ever recorded for the sale of US solar farm generated power.
The power the Carrizozo solar farm produces and sells will then be distributed and sold to the some 14,000 members that make up the Otero County Electric Cooperative. It will greatly benefit all of the members of the OCEC by adding a source of electricity that will reduce their overall energy prices. Not to mention it will make their community much greener in the process.
OCEC was also further able to cut costs by tapping into some of the federal based solar tax credit incentives (ICT). Surprisingly the Carrizozo solar farm project was not eligible for any New Mexico state tax credits or subsidies. This is something that the politicians may want to take a closer look at after seeing how successful this community-scale solar farm looks like it will turn out to be.
This is not the first foray by OCEC into obtaining electricity from a community-scale sized solar farm either. Back in 2014 OCEC signed on to receive electricity from two small scale solar farms run by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (who also happens to be OCEC’s main electrical supplier). It gave OCEC the initial experience they needed to help make the joint effort on the Carrizozo solar farm project a big success.
Why Does a Community-Scale Solar Farm Seem To Work So Well?
Many have wondered how a community based solar farm project can produce and sell electricity at such a low cost.
A lot of it has to do with the planning and organization that when into the solar farm project but there are other contributing factors too. When looking closely at this solar farm project two contributing factors to its success become readily apparent. The first is that the solar farm project was large enough to lower costs based on economies of scale. The other contributing factor is that the Carrizozo solar farm project was small enough to seamlessly interconnect into the existing OCEC electrical distribution grid.
These factors are one of the main reasons why you should expect to see more community-scale, cooperative solar farm projects to start being built. Apparently they not only work but they work well if done right.
The Future Looks Bright for Community Based Solar Farm Projects like this One
The Carrizozo solar farm project proves a big point. Producing solar generated power from large scale solar farm projects no longer has to be solely focused on just adding more renewable energy sources to the US Electric grid. With advances in solar technology and a little creativity these modern solar farm projects can also sell the energy that they produce for very reasonable prices. Now there is one more reason that communities like the one in Carrizozo, New Mexico should seriously consider building large scale solar farm projects to supply electricity.