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The workers on the solar array pose for a photo.

 

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Dignitaries and residents gather in front of one of the solar arrays at the wastewater treatment plant.

Photos by Mary Alice Murphy

 

On a windy day at the water treatment plant, about 20 people gathered to admire the six acres of about 4,000 solar collectors being installed to create 1 megawatt of electricity to power the treatment plant.

The projected savings of using solar energy to run operations at the plant are expected to be about $4 million over the 20-year contract with Affordable Solar Inc., which his installing the array.

Ryan Centerwall, Affordable Solar owner told the Beat the town has been a good partner. "By jumping on the bandwagon early, the town got the best savings. The Office of Sustainability was created right when PNM was just starting its renewable program, so the town locked in a lower rate. Silver City has blazed a trail for small municipalities, and stands to save about $70,000 a year for no financial output. The guaranteed energy savings contract is with me. It's a good deal for the town for not putting out any capital."

The solar array is expected to be operable in late May, and the Office of Sustainability plans an event at the end of June after the first bill is received to celebrate savings for the next 20 years.

The project began 2 1/2 years ago and is nearing completion. Nick Sussillo, Office of Sustainability director, said the town hopes to do similar, but smaller projects on town buildings. He pointed out that the solar array is not an independent facility, but is on the grid, because it needs extra energy to run the pumps.

Live from Silver City

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