Coming soon, a 500-acre lot of solar panels on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation will help the City of Albuquerque reach its target of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has stated that the city, home to 560,000 people, will meet its clean energy goals within the next five years, well ahead of the state’s 100 percent mandate by 2045.
The Jicarilla Apache Nation’s forthcoming solar station will drive the city toward this milestone, while bringing economic opportunity to the reservation and 3,500-member Tribe. Resident businesses, schools and the city government will be able to purchase power from the Tribe’s solar plant, located on the reservation in the northwest corner of New Mexico.
The Mayor’s office underscored that the Jicarilla Apache solar farm will be the third-largest solar project on Tribal lands in the United States.
The city of Albuquerque has committed to buying 25 megawatts produced by the solar farm each year for 15 years — which will meet about 54 percent of the city’s electricity needs.
The City of Albuquerque, utility Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and the Jicarilla Apache Nation are joining forces to make bring this collaborative, green energy vision to life. Mayor Keller approached PNM about helping Albuquerque reach its sustainability goals, which led to the creation of PNM’s Solar Direct program for corporations, cities, schools and governments.
Hecate Energy, a Chicago-based developer, will build the solar project. Following approval from the state’s Public Regulation Commission, a process anticipated to take about six months, the $220 million project could be constructed within a year, Craig Overmyer, Vice President of Hecate, told the Albuquerque Journal. Hecate forecasts the solar farm will go online in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Jicarilla Apache Economy
The Jicarilla Apache are no strangers to energy development on their lands. Oil and gas has been the backbone of the Jicarilla Apache Nation’s economy, and the Jicarilla Oil & Gas Administration provides operating authorization for drilling and other oil and gas related operations on its lands to the oil industry. Now the Tribe can add harnessing the power of the sun to its portfolio through its forthcoming 50 MWac solar farm.