Albuquerque to install over $25 million worth of solar on city buildings

By Ron Reiring - Albuquerque, New Mexico, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2921276

On Saturday, two city councilors in Albuquerque, New Mexico, announced that the city would begin work on $25 million in solar installations on city buildings later this year, which will be completed by the end of 2019.

The announcement did not carry a capacity figure, however the latest estimates from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab put commercial and industrial (C&I) solar at $2.50-$3.50 per watt, meaning that somewhere in the ballpark of 7-8 MW could be deployed if done at standard prices.

Albuquerque has also secured federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs), which could allow it to double its funding. The projects will be financed through energy savings and federal bond credits, which means that it will be built at no cost to taxpayers.

The city states that this will be the first step in fulfilling a goal set by the City Council last December for Albuquerque to get 25% of its energy from solar. It currently gets around 3% of its energy from solar.

According to a recent report by Environment America, Albuquerque has the 9th-highest capacity of installed solar among American cities at 82 MW. However, as it is only a mid-sized city with only around 560,000 residents, it has the fifth-highest per capita portion of installed solar at 146 watts per resident.

In a press statement accompanying the announcement, the city stressed the job creation benefits of employing solar, estimating that New Mexico hosts 102 solar companies that employ around 2,900 individuals, with 1,000 new jobs in 2016 alone.

“Since the 1970s New Mexico has been a leader and innovator in solar technology, providing thousands of lifetime careers,” stated City Council President Isaac Benton. “Increasing our investment in clean energy now will add to a new generation of similar careers while protecting our environment.”