Solar In the Taos Area

In New Mexico, specifically in Taos and the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) Territory, there exists a 5% cap on the limit of generating renewable energy.  The 5% limit is imposed on the local cooperative by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the KCEC wholesale supplier.  Under agreement with Tri-State, the 44 electric cooperative members may not produce more than 5% of power from local alternative sources.  (KCEC is contractually obligated to follow the 5% limit.)

According to Scientific American and Mark Jacobsen, there are ways to power our planet without the use of fossil fuels, 100% carbon free within 10 years.  Although its possible to imagine a sustainable and renewable future without fossil fuels, the members of KCEC territory will have to consider the imposed 5% limit until the contract changes.  In our local Taos community, KCEC is quickly approaching the cap.   The 5% is now widely seen as a symbol and motivator to oppose Tri-State.

One of the means to bypass the restrictions on the limit is promoting expansion of locally owned residential and commercial solar electric systems.  Widely known in the photovoltaic (PV) industry with the term “Behind The Meter” (BTM), a BTM system is a renewable energy generating facility (in this case, a solar PV system) that produces power intended for on-site use in a home, office building, or other commercial facility.  The location of the solar PV system is literally “Behind The Meter”, on the owner’s property, not on the side of the electric grid/utility.  

An example of a BTM system is where the power (from solar panels) is fed into the main electrical panel and from there, goes to the the utility grid, or, to be used in the home/building.  It is connected before the customer’s meter.

A BTM system  is commonly net-metered, with a single bi-directional meter.  This allows a solar electric system owner to generate energy for on-site consumption use.

BTM is imperative to promote and encourage in our community.  Because it is located on the owner side and not the side of the electric grid/utility, it allows the KCEC customers and Taos residents a way around Tri-State 5% cap on renewable energy.

STAY TUNED:  Next week we will talk about “net metering” and discuss the relevance of it in Taos, for owners of solar electric systems.