Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Co., speaks to attendees at the commissioning ceremony for a new solar carport on the ENMU-Roswell campus as Dr. John Madden, ENMU-R president, listens. Julia Bergman Photo
On one of the cloudiest days to hit Roswell in a while, a new solar carport on Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s campus, the only project of its kind in the state, was unveiled, Tuesday. The commissioning ceremony, held on the campus, signaled that the panels were actively producing electricity.
“What you see right here is not only New Mexican made, New Mexican designed, but New Mexican engineered. [auth] It shows off the ability of New Mexicans to be the world leaders of this technology,” Richard Fialho, manager of new business development of Sacred Power Corp., said. Later, Fialho indicated a mere 10 percent of the components used were from outside the state.
A collaboration between Xcel Energy, Albuquerque-based Sacred Power Corp., and ENMU-R enabled the nearly $500,000 project to come to fruition.
Included in this cost was money to support the educational component of the project, ENMU-R’s relatively new renewable energy program.
The 50,000-watt single-axis tracking carport structure utilizes solar panels with a system provided by Xcel Energy and a patented design by Sacred Power. The installation is similar to the system used by the Army at Fort Bliss Warriors in Transition Facility. The system is interconnected to Xcel Energy Grid and will offset the costs of the university’s power usage to the tune of around $2,000 monthly, Dr. John Madden, ENMU-R president, said. Xcel Energy Regional Manager Mike McLeod put it as 1.5 percent of their annual energy.
Solar panels will track the sun to ensure maximum light and thus maximum output of electricity. Additionally, the university will sell the parking spots under the carport as a fundraiser for the institution.
The system enhances the university’s existing demonstration project, generated from a partnership between Xcel and Sacred Power. Originally designed as a learning tool for students of the renewable energy program, “it showcases and demonstrates all the different types of solar technology that are available today — ground mounting, roof mounting and tracking technology,” Fialho said.
“People are very, very interested in this type of work. It’s the technical work that goes into solar, wind, geothermal. You name it we do a little bit of everything. People are really excited about this because it is the future,” Madden said.