Las Cruces Utilities provides utilities like clean water, removes waste and wastewater, and ensures customers have access to natural gas energy. LCU is also working to achieve the goals set by Las Cruces City Council to provide locations to grow the needed infrastructure for clean energy, including solar. One of those locations for a nearly finished photovoltaic array is at the West Mesa Industrial Park Wastewater Treatment Facility.
“It’s not a place that most residents can get out to see, but the facility does serve the correctional facility and anticipated growth of the Las Cruces Innovation & Industrial Park,” said John Mrozek, deputy director Wastewater. “It had the space needed to build the array, plus we had the infrastructure to support it being in a protected location.”
With Resolution 18-117, the City of Las Cruces adopted a commitment to clean energy. It set the goal of generating 25 percent of Las Cruces municipal electricity from solar power by the end of 2022. The resolution was amended in 2019 to include the work done before 2017.
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Beyond 2022, City Council wants to have the City receive 50 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power by 2030 and 100% of its energy from wind and solar power by 2050. Between 2011 and 2017, the City installed more than 1.1 megawatts of solar energy, which replaces 6% of the City’s electricity usage; however, the clean energy target is 20 megawatts of renewable energy.
In December 2019, City Council signed a Power Purchase Agreement between the City and Ameresco, Inc., a Phoenix-based renewable energy company. Over the 25-year lifespan of the contract, the City’s sustainability office estimates the City will save $5.8 million in energy costs.
Sarah L. Volcko, City Public Works construction management project specialist, anticipates a fall 2021 completion date for the Ameresco project at the WMIPWWTF. “When it’s finished, the City will be at 89 percent of the 2022 goal,” she said.
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“Plenty of LCU-managed land has the opportunity to assist in ways outside the direct mission of the Utility, just like the space that we had available to build this solar array,” said Delilah Walsh, LCU director. “Just like we all need to come together to work to build a sustainable future, at LCU, we believe that we can achieve more if we stretch our resources efficiently.”
LCU Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
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