Rio Rancho Public Schools Unveils Solar Arrays

Rio Rancho Public Schools will unveil its 2,357-kilowatt solar arrays in a recognition ceremony with representatives from Washington Gas Energy Systems, Inc., AMSOLAR, Conergy and the local community. The school system has recently completed two ground-mounted solar arrays at Cleveland and Rio Rancho High Schools. Each system is approximately 1,200-kilowatts and consists of more than 4,000 solar panels. Together they are expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 632 passenger cars off the road.

“This partnership has been an exciting endeavor for Cleveland High School and Rio Rancho High School. Not only do our staff, students, and community have an opportunity to see renewable energy at work, but it reaffirms our district’s commitment to making a difference in terms of sustainability and the protection of the environment,” said Dr. V. Sue Cleveland, superintendent of Rio Rancho Public Schools. “Also, in these times of extremely limited resources, it allows our school district to redirect precious funding toward other academic priorities and needs. Hopefully, this effort will serve as a model for similar projects throughout New Mexico and other states.”

Washington Gas Energy Systems will own and operate the systems under a 20-year power purchase agreement. The project was developed by AMSOLAR and constructed by Conergy, which also supplied the equipment for both schools. Each solar installation features 2.9 miles of Conergy SolarLinea mounting systems, a ground-mounted solution. The expected annual output of 4,650,000 kilowatt hours will produce approximately 80 percent of the electricity required to power Cleveland and Rio Rancho High Schools.

The solar arrays are located at 4800 Laban Road NE (Cleveland High School) and 301 Loma Colorado Blvd., NE (Rio Rancho High School) in Rio Rancho, N.M., each covering approximately 7-8 acres of land.

“The opportunity to utilize sustainable energy in an educational setting is valuable for our schools and community. The ability for our students to actually see power generated on site and how it affects their schools is education via the environment that provides better understanding of all resources and perhaps inspire them to future professions that can provide positive impact to our world,” said Al Sena, executive director of facilities at Rio Rancho Public Schools. “The savings provided to the district will allow use of funds for other items that would not be otherwise available make these projects fiscally responsible.”