Region going green with proposed renewable energy projects

Alisa Boswell

Eastern New Mexico is going green with several new projects planned in Clovis and Portales to take advantage or solar and wind energy.

Eastern New Mexico has been identified as one of the richest areas for green energy in the U.S., according to Frank Barbera of Tres Amigas, LLC in Santa Fe. Barbera is the Director of Reliability Assurance for Tres Amigas and is helping to lead a building project that will begin in Clovis next summer.

The facility, which is to be built just north of Clovis, will interconnect the three major electrical grids of the U.S., making it possible to transfer energy from one grid to another.

“The facility will facilitate green energy,” said Barbera, by more efficiently transferring electricity generated by wind and solar power as well as conventional sources.

Another green energy project happening in Clovis is the addition of solar panels to Clovis Civic Center and Clovis-Carver Public Library.

The panels will collect solar energy which will flow into an inverter then into the buildings electrical system, giving the civic center and library twice the amount of electricity at a much lower cost, according to Gary Johnson, grants coordinator for the city.

If the panels create more energy than what the two facilities use, the energy left over will be transferred to electrical companies.

The city was given two grants, totaling $615,000, from the U.S. Department of Energy for the addition of the solar panels. A committee of seven city officials reviewed project proposals from various solar energy companies before deciding on Consolidated Solar Technologies of Albuquerque.

“The library and the civic center being able to use this solar energy is incredibly exciting,” said City Commissioner Len Vohs, one of the seven board members. “Not only does the city save a lot of money, but we will be using natural resources.”

The project is due to begin in three to four weeks and is estimated to take no more than two months to complete.

A third project happening in the area is the addition of solar panels and a small wind generator to Lindsey Steiner Elementary School in Portales. The project is funded by a $300,000 grant, which was given by Gov. Bill Richardson. Fourteen other schools were also given grants, including the school in Elida.

According to Principal Rick Segovia, the school was built to be energy efficient. Along with the roof’s new solar panels, the school also has natural lighting in classrooms (sun roofs), geo-thermal heating and air conditioning and motion-sensored fluorescent lights.

“We’re excited about the fact that we are able to be more efficient with energy conservation,” said Segovia. “We’re excited about this as an educational tool too.”

Segovia said the school plans to have students compare energy created by the solar panels to energy created by one turbine.

Construction for the solar panels began Friday and is headed by Sacred Power, a solar energy company from Albuquerque.