Western New Mexico University President Dr. Joseph Shepard, along with PNM Resources CEO Patricia Vincent-Collawn, revealed plans to transition WNMU to more sustainable energy sources during a news conference on Thursday, August 15.
WNMU aims to source more than half of the university’s power though solar-generated energy, which will be made possible through the proposed PNM Community Solar Direct project upon its review and approval from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.
“Through Community Solar Direct, WNMU will be better able to achieve its sustainability goals in a cost-effective manner that is consistent with our transition to clean energy resources,” President Shepard said.
A voluntary renewable energy program that allows eligible PNM customers to match a portion of their consumption with energy produced from solar facilities dedicated solely to the project, Community Solar Direct will provide 50 megawatts of electric into the state’s power grid.
If the PNM proposal is approved, this energy will be sourced from a new solar facility on the Jicarilla Apache Nation in northern New Mexico, allowing WNMU and other subscribers in southwest New Mexico to receive solar-generated electricity without building their own facilities.
It costs less to generate electricity from a large solar facility than from a small facility. Plus, most customers do not have the necessary land to build a facility sized to their needs, as solar generation requires 10 acres per megawatt.
The fixed price of electricity over the subscription term will also protect WNMU from fluctuating energy costs, because WNMU will be able to subscribe to Community Solar Direct and receive electricity at a set price.
WNMU submitted a Notice of Intent with a desired subscription amount of 1,000 kilowatt hours, as did the Town of Silver City, Deming Public Schools and the City of Deming. This amount will meet 54% of campus’ energy needs.