Aztec solar provider lands deal with NM co-op

James Fenton
Juan Montoya an electrician with Mosher Enterprises Inc., installs a grounding rod on Monday at the city of Aztec's solar farm project site off Western Drive in Aztec.

FARMINGTON — The Florida energy company that helped Aztec go solar is expanding its business in New Mexico.

Today,  Guzman Renewable Energy Partners — an affiliate of Guzman Energy, a Coral Gables, Fla.-based energy company, with offices in Denver — struck an agreement to provide a mix of power that includes photoelectric power to Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Inc.

Kit Carson is the second largest of 16 member-owned utility cooperatives in New Mexico and serves about 30,000 customers in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba counties.

In a phone interview, Guzman Energy President Chris Riley said the Florida energy company is eager to expand into the Southwest.

"We hope that these types of transactions help differentiate us from other companies," Riley said. "We can do a lot of good for the cooperatives and the municipalities like Aztec."

Starting July 1, Aztec starts a seven-year contract with Guzman, which includes generating 1-megawatt of solar electric energy that will provide approximately 8 percent of Aztec’s electricity with the balance coming from Guzman’s other assets.

Ken George, Aztec's electric director, said the city hopes to secure a contractor to complete a cost-of-service study and, after that, a rate study, to help city officials determine how much it is saving on power from Guzman and how much its approximately 3,000 residential and commercial customers can expect to pay per kilowatt hour and per 1,000 gallons of drinking and waste water.

George said the studies would also include water and wastewater services.

George said that rates customers pay "should go down" from the 13 cents per kilowatt hour the city currently charges.

"The hope is that everybody will see relief in what they're paying each month," George said.

The city's new solar array will go online Tuesday  for testing and evaluation, George said, and be ready to provide power starting on Friday.

"It's free power from the sun," he said. "It's so hot right now that we want cloudy days just to cool off with, but with our new solar (array) now we're hoping for nothing but sunny days ahead."

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.