Rio Rancho Public Schools in New Mexico will unveil its 2.357-MW solar arrays in a recognition ceremony with representatives from Washington Gas Energy Systems Inc., AMSOLAR, Conergy and the local community. The school system has recently completed two ground-mounted solar arrays at Cleveland and Rio Rancho High Schools. Each system is approximately 1.2 MW and consists of more than 4,000 solar panels. Together they are expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 632 passenger cars off the road.
“This partnership has been an exciting endeavor for Cleveland High School and Rio Rancho High School. Not only do our staff, students, and community have an opportunity to see renewable energy at work, but it reaffirms our district’s commitment to making a difference in terms of sustainability and the protection of the environment,” said Dr. V. Sue Cleveland, superintendent of Rio Rancho Public Schools. “Also, in these times of extremely limited resources, it allows our school district to redirect precious funding toward other academic priorities and needs. Hopefully, this effort will serve as a model for similar projects throughout New Mexico and other states.”
Washington Gas Energy Systems will own and operate the systems under a 20-year power purchase agreement. The project was developed by AMSOLAR and constructed by Conergy, which also supplied the equipment for both schools. Each solar installation features 2.9 miles of Conergy SolarLinea mounting systems, a ground-mounted solution. The expected annual output of 4,650,000 kilowatt hours will produce approximately 80 percent of the electricity required to power Cleveland and Rio Rancho High Schools.
“We are committed to working with educational institutions across the country, and are excited at the potential for the solar arrays to serve as educational vehicles in classrooms throughout the school system while also reducing energy costs for the town,” said Sanjiv Mahan, vice president of business development for Washington Gas Energy Systems. “Washington Gas Energy Systems thanks Rio Rancho Public Schools for the opportunity to continue growing our presence in New Mexico.”
The solar arrays are located at 4800 Laban Road NE (Cleveland High School) and 301 Loma Colorado Blvd., NE (Rio Rancho High School) in Rio Rancho, N.M., each covering approximately 7-8 acres of land.
“The opportunity to utilize sustainable energy in an educational setting is valuable for our schools and community. The ability for our students to actually see power generated on site and how it affects their schools is education via the environment that provides better understanding of all resources and perhaps inspire them to future professions that can provide positive impact to our world,” said Al Sena, executive director of facilities at Rio Rancho Public Schools. “The savings provided to the district will allow use of funds for other items that would not be otherwise available make these projects fiscally responsible.”
“It has been a pleasure to work hand in hand with Rio Rancho Public Schools and our partners to deliver the largest solar project financed through a power purchase agreement at a public school district in the state of New Mexico,” said Jared Quient, vice president of AMSOLAR. “It is a testament to Rio Rancho Public School’s leadership that the project was a success. Their forward thinking and willingness to lead the way on renewable energy will serve as an example to other districts around the state.”
“We’ve enjoyed working with our partners to bring more clean solar energy to New Mexico schools,” said Anthony Fotopoulos, president of Conergy Americas. “Educational institutions like Rio Rancho can really benefit from the idea of local consumption via power purchase agreements for managing their future energy needs and expenses – this is the future of the American electricity market. With this electricity market model, consumers benefit from considerable electricity cost savings from the green power – without substantial upfront costs.”
— Solar Builder magazine