It’s infuriating to get those press releases from Kit Carson Electric Cooperative. They’re so informative, so uplifting, enlightening. They give you hope for a better future.
Then the reality check: oh yeah, we’re stuck in Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative’s coverage area, led by a bunch backwards thinking, clandestine, criminally-minded, self-helping zealots.
Grit your teeth. Here’s what’s going on just up the road at Kit Carson:
The co-op serving Taos and small villages in Taos County is working toward using 100 percent renewable daytime energy by 2022. They’re achieving this by breaking ground on three new solar arrays. Combined, they’ll add six megawatts of electricity for Kit Carson electricity users.
The press release states they did this by teaming with Guzman Energy. It will give Kit Carson the lowest wholesale rates in the region. They expect to save up to $70 million in energy costs.
They’ve done this by working with local governments and villages. Completed projects include solar arrays in Eagle Nest, Picuris Pueblo and Tres Piedras.
The three upcoming projects are in Questa, Taos’s wastewater plant and Northern New Mexico College, in El Rito. These three new arrays will produce enough power for 3,400 homes. Along with that new power comes economic development, jobs and good use of land.
Kit Carson cut ties with Tri State Generation and Transmission in July 2016. It was a bold and forward-thinking move that allowed the Co-op to chart its own course, instead of being a slave to Tri State’s failing business model. Kit Carson’s future is in its own hands now. Jemez and its member owners remain at the mercy of Tri State.
Jemez Co-op will eventually have its first solar array. It will cost more than originally planned under the leadership of former general manager Joseph Sanchez. It will produce less electricity at a higher cost because the original plan went from building a 7.5 megawatt solar array in the Black Mesa area, in partnership with Chicago-based company SoCore Energy, to the current plan to build a 2.5 megawatt array in Alcalde.
The diminutive Alcalde array will put a bundle of money in Jerry Mosher’s pocket. He is the president of CST Solar, where Jemez Co-op’s member-at-large John Tapia works. Mosher also owns Cuba-Jemez LLC, the company that will build the array. No coincidence there.
Jemez is leasing property from Rio Arriba County, Jemez chairman Leo Marquez’s boss.
We can’t tell you how much the solar array in Alcalde will cost because Jemez Co-op will not provide the information, stating it does not affect the financial wellness of the Co-op.
We would argue buying electricity from Cuba-Jemez LLC will affect all of us directly, including Jemez Co-op operations.
Most members don’t seem to mind that they’re getting less and paying more. They also don’t mind increasing rates on member-owners who generate their own solar power.
Marquez and the other Jemez Co-op trustees who made this bad deal have defended their actions by saying a policy approved in February is not being enforced. Why was the policy passed in the first place? How can a policy raise rates without being approved by the state Public Regulation Commission?
If the Board is being truthful about not raising rates, they should repeal the policy they claim will never be enforced.
They should also spend some time with their associates at Kit Carson. Those member owners will be free of the Tri State albatross soon, enjoying lower rates and eventually receiving higher and more frequent member capital credits.
Also to Kit Carson members’ benefit: a propane delivery and sales program. They were also leading the way in adding fiber optic lines and offering middle and last mile internet access before other private or public entities considered such a risk.
Lower rates, better and more services, responsive management, right up the Taos canyon. So near and yet so far.