Farmington starts negotiations for solar array

Farmington considers 500 kilowatt community solar project

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The Bluffview Power Plant, as seen from a utility road southeast of it's location, in a file photo from Jan. 2010, will have a new and power-generating neighbor if plans for a new solar array happen on land near the plant.

FARMINGTON — The city of Farmington has entered negotiations with Ameresco, Inc. of Phoenix, Arizona, to build a solar power generation facility.
The city hopes to build the array on more than six acres of land located near West Murray Drive close to the Bluffview Power Plant in south Farmington. 
The cost of the facility will depend on various factors, including the type of solar panels, tariffs, removal of a structure on the property, the composition of the soil and the size of solar array, according to Farmington Electric Utility System Director Hank Adair.
The array's minimum size will be 500 kilowatts; however, the city is also evaluating a larger array that could cover the entire parcel.
The city hopes to provide solar as an option for customers and has done surveys to gauge interest. Farmington Electric Utility System may allow customers to purchase solar power subscriptions. This would allow people who live in apartments or people who live in shady areas to have access to solar power.
"I anticipate a lot of people will be interested in this," said Public Utility Commissioner Carol Cloer during the commission's meeting this month.
The community solar project would be similar to a project completed last year by El Paso Electric, according to Adair.
El Paso Electric offers the solar in Texas on a first-come first-serve basis and has a waiting list for subscribers. The minimums subscription is one kilowatt and the subscribers pay at least $20.96 a month.
Within a month of the subscriptions opening, El Paso Electric sold out according to The El Paso Times.
El Paso Electric's 3,000 kilowatt solar array cost the company $6.7 million to build and the solar rate is higher than regular rate, according to The El Paso Times.
While the city hopes people will buy subscriptions into the solar array, if there is not enough interest it may be used as another power generation facility similar to the solar field that provides power to the Aztec Electric Utility customers.
Aztec has a 1 megawatt solar array that was built by Aztec's power provider, Guzman Energy. When the contract with Guzman Energy ends in 2023, the city will purchase the solar farm for $1.
The Public Utility Commission will discuss the solar field during its meeting next month and the Farmington City Council may approve an agreement with Ameresco, Inc. during its meeting in late February, according to Adair. 
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at

The Bluffview Power Plant is pictured on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2017 on West Murray Drive in Farmington.
The Bluffview Power Plant is pictured on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2017 on West Murray Drive in Farmington.