Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) provides utilities such as clean water, eliminates waste and sewage, and ensures customers have access to natural gas energy. LCU is also working to meet the goals set by Las Cruces City Council to provide sites for the expansion of necessary clean energy infrastructure, including solar power. One of these locations for an almost completed photovoltaic system is the wastewater treatment plant of the West Mesa Industrial Park (WMIPWWTF).
“It’s not a place for most residents to see, but the facility serves the correctional facility and the anticipated growth of Las Cruces Innovation & Industrial Park,” said John Mrozek, Wastewater deputy director. “It had the space to build the array, and we had the infrastructure to support it in a sheltered location.”
With resolution 18-117, the city of Las Cruces (City) committed itself to clean energy. It has set itself the goal of generating 25 percent of Las Cruces’ municipal electricity from solar power by the end of 2022. The decision was supplemented in 2019 to include the work carried out before 2017.
Beyond 2022, the city council wants the city to obtain 50 percent of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2030 and 100 percent of its energy from wind and solar energy by 2050. Between 2011 and 2017, the city installed over 1.1 megawatts of solar power, which replaces 6% of the city’s electricity consumption; however, the clean energy target is 20 megawatts of renewable energy.
In December 2019, the city council signed a power purchase agreement between the city and Ameresco, Inc., a Phoenix-based renewable energy company. Over the 25-year contract term, the city’s sustainability bureau estimates that the city will save 5.8 million US dollars in energy costs.
Sarah L. Volcko, construction management specialist for City Public Works, expects a completion date for the Ameresco project at WMIPWWTF in the fall of 2021. “When it is ready, the city will hit 89 percent of the 2022 target,” she said.
“Much of the land managed by the LCU offers the opportunity to help outside of the utility’s direct mission, as does the space we had to build this solar facility,” said Delilah Walsh, director of the LCU. “Just as we all have to come together to build a sustainable future, we at LCU believe that we can achieve more if we use our resources efficiently.”
The LCU Customer Central can be reached Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 575-541-2111. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.