Eastern New Mexico power supplier to increase use of solar

January 15, 2019

Solar power will play an increasing part of electricity supplied in Eastern New Mexico with the projected 2022 opening of the Tip Top Solar Energy Center in Lea County.

Western Farmers Electric Cooperative has entered into a long-term renewable power purchase agreement at an undisclosed price with Chicago-based Invenergy for 220 megawatts of solar power produced at Tip Top, nearly 10 percent of the electricity Western Farmers supplies to 21 member cooperatives in New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Western Farmers, based in Anadarko, Okla., near Oklahoma City, supplies electricity to four power cooperatives in New Mexico that serve all of the Eastern New Mexico counties nearest Texas except Union County in the northeast corner.

Renewable energy now makes up about 1,000 megawatts of the total 2,400 megawatts of electricity that Western Farmers supplies to its member electric cooperatives, said Sondra Boykin, the cooperative’s communications coordinator.

Western Farmers only entered the solar energy field in late 2016 with the purchase of 25 MW from the Caprock Solar Project near Tucumcari. Western Farmers currently supplies about 50 MW of solar power, including 5 MW produced at the Middle Daisy Solar Project in Lovington, 18 MW from five commercial producers in Oklahoma and 2 MW from 13 community solar producers in Oklahoma.

Western Farmers currently purchases 705 MW of wind power and 260 MW of hydroelectric power for distribution to its member electric cooperatives.

“With this addition [at Tip Top], our renewable portfolio [in 2022] will include generation consisting of 270 MW of solar generation, 955 MW of wind generation and 260 MW of hydroelectric generation,” said Phil Schaeffer, Western Farmers’ principal resource planning engineer. “This project will help diversify WFEC’s generation portfolio further and continue to lower costs for our members. It helps keep Western Farmers’ rates flat over time.”

Western Farmers’ member cooperatives in New Mexico are Central Valley Electric Cooperative in Artesia, serving Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Otero counties; Farmers Electric Cooperative in Clovis, serving Curry, DeBaca, Guadalupe, Harding, Roosevelt, Quay and San Miguel counties; Lea County Electric Cooperative in Lovington; and Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative in Portales, serving Roosevelt, Chaves, Curry and DeBaca counties.

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