Aztec Goes (Sort Of) Solar

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Aztec, New Mexico is pretty much smack-dab within the San Juan Basin, an area straddling the Four Corners that’s known for its oil and gas wells, coal deposits, and coal-fired power plants.

But now, the city is starting to move away from its dependence on fossil fuels—and signing up for solar power.

In December, the city commission voted to approve a wholesale power relationship between Aztec and Florida-based Guzman Energy, and to allow the company to build a solar energy plant on city property.

Last week, the company announced it has signed a seven-year agreement with the city and will be its primary power supplier beginning July 1.

Currently, the city is under contract with Public Service Company of New Mexico, or PNM.

According to the Times story, Aztec has had the highest electric rates in San Juan County:

Ten years ago, Aztec locked in a rate of 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour with PNM that included yearly increases based on natural gas futures, (Ken George, Aztec’s electric director) said. Those yearly increases have meant the city is actually paying PNM closer to 8 cents per kilowatt hour. The city’s new contract with Guzman is set at 5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Aztec’s agreement with PNM allowed for up to three megawatts of solar power, but George said PNM’s solar rates were never affordable.

“Every time we went and looked at (solar with PNM), it wasn’t cost effective so we could never do it,” he said.

According to the Farmington Daily Times, most of the city’s electricity will come from the company’s other natural resource assets, and eight percent will come from a 1-megawatt solar facility Guzman Energy is building on public land in Aztec. In 2023, when the power agreement expires, Guzman will sell that plant to the city for $1.

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