eLab Accelerator 2015

Renewable Taos Project

Project Objective

To develop a new utility business model, including a significant behind the meter energy strategy, to transition North Central New Mexico to 100% renewable energy.

Project Team Members

William M. Brown, Principal, Sage West Consultants
Doug Danley, Technical Liaison, Renewable & Distributed Energy, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
Valerie Espinoza, Commissioner, District 3, New Mexico Public Regulation Commission
Andrew Gonzales, Town Councilor, Town of Taos, NM
Jay P. Levine, Principal, Levine Mesa Web; Board Member, Renewable Taos, Inc.
Luis Reyes, CEO, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc.
David Torres, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees

Project Description

Renewable Taos Inc., a local non-profit, is working with Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) and local stakeholders to transform how electricity is delivered in the Taos region. The Joint Resolution on Renewable Energy adopted by Taos County Governments and KCEC, paves the way to a 100% renewable energy system for the Kit Carson Service Area by 2030 or earlier. To achieve this goal the Accelerator team is exploring new business models that would enable innovative behind the meter energy solutions, reduce wholesale contract requirements, and mitigate regulatory risk for the region as it seeks to move beyond current self-generation allowances of its generation and transmission utility. If successful, the Taos project would provide a model for how small utilities and rural coops can deliver clean, distributed energy to their customers.

Progress Made to Date (pre-Accelerator)

1. During 2013-14, local governments and other major stakeholders throughout the KCEC service area signed Renewable Taos’ Joint Resolution on Renewable Energy. The Joint Resolution calls for local development of renewable energy to provide all energy demands. Widespread local government support of the Joint Resolution has served to galvanize regional support for a renewable energy transition. 2. Renewable Taos introduced legislation (NM Senate Bill 697, Shared Renewable Energy Facility Operations) in the 2015 session of the New Mexico State Legislature in order to clarify the recognition of community solar as a behind-the-meter generation source. SB697 is sponsored by NM State Senator Peter Wirth. 3. KCEC and Renewable Taos formed a leadership group that created instructions to be embodied in any new electricity services contract KCEC would enter into with new wholesale providers. These instructions outline what the community wants immediately, and in the longer term, to make a transition to a regional renewable energy economy. This team is continuing to convene in order to explore utility business model options that can simultaneously enable behind the meter energy solutions. 4. KCEC and Renewable Taos will create a partnership structure, also referred to as the Joint Powers Agreement (JPA), specifying roles of all local governments to guide the renewable energy transition identified in the Joint Resolution. This JPA, recommended by local political leaders, seeks to place requirements on local governments to participate in a renewable energy transition through commitment of funds, enacting energy efficiency and renewable energy ordinances, and providing in-kind services necessary to the transition.

Project Background Information

http://renewabletaos.org http://www.kitcarson.com/news-events http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/legislation.aspx?chamber=S&legtype=B&legno=697&year=15