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CNM Breaks Ground on Solar Array Project at Westside Campus

When completed, the solar farm will provide about 50 percent of the electricity needed to power the entire Westside Campus, reducing CNM's energy costs, energy usage and carbon footprint. It will also serve as a real-world lab for Electrical Trades students.
CNM Breaks Ground on Solar Array Project at Westside Campus
Workers with Affordable Solar Installation dig a trench for conduit that will hold the electrical writing coming out of the solar farm.

Feb 20, 2020

The construction of an 8.6-acre, 1.3-megawatt solar farm at the Westside Campus is underway. The project will include the largest energy storage system in PNM's service area and the site will double as a state-of-the-art training lab for CNM students in the Electrical Trades Photovoltaic program.

Affordable Solar Installation, Inc. (ASI) will be working at the Westside Campus now through the beginning of summer to complete the project.

The main system is a single-axis array situated over 8.6 acres of available CNM land. It will consist of over 3,000 photovoltaic modules organized in several rows and will track the sun at a maximum tilt of 52 degrees. On average, the energy captured will provide approximately 50 percent of the electricity needed to power the Westside Campus buildings, reducing CNM's energy costs, energy usage and carbon emissions.

The field south of the Westside Campus where the solar farm will be located.
The field south of the Westside Campus where the solar farm will be located.

The PNM service area's largest energy storage system is a pack of large batteries. Those batteries will kick on when the campus has its highest electricity demands, helping CNM cut operational costs. Reducing the college's demand during these times may also allow PNM to reallocate this energy to other customers.

In addition, CNM students enrolled in the Electrical Trades Photovoltaic Concentration program will receive the long-term benefits of a training lab located at the solar farm. Students will also be able to visit the site during construction to get a first-hand look at what it takes to implement a commercial-scale solar array.

"We are excited about the advancement that this project provides towards our goals in environmental sustainability, operational efficiency, and academics," says Molly Blumhoefer, CNM's Sustainability Project Manager. "We hope that it inspires our students and the community."

For more information, please contact Molly Blumhoefer at mblumhoefer@cnm.edu.