NMSU, El Paso Electric present Aggie Power solar project


Sunlight shines from a new installation of 10,000 solar panels that stand between Interstate 10 and Interstate 25 in Las Cruces on a formerly vacant 29-acre lot in Arrowhead Park, New Mexico State University.

The site is now home to NMSU’s newest renewable energy company, Aggie Power, a solar array that will produce enough clean power to power about half of Las Cruces’ 900 acre campus and as a living laboratory for NMSU – To serve students and faculty.

Aggie Power, now in the final stages of construction, is part of an ongoing partnership between NMSU and El Paso Electric to advance common goals in the areas of renewable energy, climate protection and microgrid development.

Supporters moved to the Aggie Power site on Thursday, September 23rd to join NMSU and EPE in celebrating the project with an opening ceremony and prestigious talk led by NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu and EPE President and CEO Kelly Tomblin .

“NMSU is excited about our latest strategic partnership with EPE. These partnerships are critical to our goals of supporting a balanced and sustainable energy economy inside and outside the NMSU system, ”said Arvizu. “Our partnership with EPE moves us forward in a leadership role and is a perfect example of our ability to offset infrastructure investments while providing a state-of-the-art living laboratory to complement our educational programs.”

In 2018, the NMSU and EPE signed a letter of intent that cemented their partnership and outlined the details of Aggie Power. Construction began in December 2020 after the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved a special collective bargaining agreement application from EPE that allowed the project to continue. Affordable Solar from Albuquerque acted as general contractor.

As part of its partnership with NMSU, EPE owns, operates, services and oversees Aggie Power.

“Aggie Power is a living example of the strength of public-private partnerships and the power we have to pave the way towards our goal of 100 percent decarbonisation of clean energy by 2045,” said Tomblin. “When two long-standing, community-minded institutions like NMSU and El Paso Electric join forces and achieve something as groundbreaking as Aggie Power, imagine the other opportunities that arise when we all pull together and work towards a common goal . “

The heart of Aggie Power is a three-megawatt photovoltaic system with around 10,000 modules and a one-megawatt, four-megawatt-hour battery energy storage system. When completed, it will be the largest source of green energy on the NMSU’s Las Cruces campus.

It will also serve as a state-of-the-art living laboratory for the NMSU faculty and electrical engineering students, providing experiential learning and research opportunities.

Wayne Savage, executive director of Arrowhead Park, said the on-site research would likely begin sometime next summer. Olga Lavrova, Associate Professor at NMSU Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will oversee research activities at Aggie Power.

“On the one hand, our faculty is very excited to be doing cutting-edge research into a new power and power system and smart grid,” said Lakshmi Reddi, dean of the College of Engineering. “On the other hand, we have very committed students who ask about the possibilities of experiential learning, which institutions like these and partnerships like this offer us.”

After construction is completed over the next 60 days, Aggie Power will undergo extensive performance testing, Savage said. Then it will begin to support some of the NMSU’s electricity needs with renewable energy and storage, giving the university more flexibility in managing its electricity tariffs.

“There have to be a couple of weeks of performance testing before they are officially used,” he said.

Following the opening ceremony on Thursday, Arvizu and Tomblin gave a joint, top-class lecture at the Aggie Power location. Her talk, “Transforming a New Energy”, looked at the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead as New Mexico begins to diversify its energy sector.

For more information on Aggie Power, contact Savage at [email protected]

Information from NMSU

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