Worsening storms, wildfires, and other extreme weather are causing a growing risk of power outages in rural northern New Mexico.
Reyes: “A couple of years ago, we had winds over 100 miles an hour in the mountains. Besides taking down a lot of our power lines, it just ravaged the forest by taking a lot of trees down.”
Luis A. Reyes, Jr., is the CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, which provides power to about 30,000 households in the region.
This past fall, the member-owned utility was awarded more than $15 million in funding from the federal bipartisan infrastructure law. Kit Carson will use it to help develop three microgrids — solar and battery installations that can operate independently of the larger grid.
Reyes: “And so, if the power goes out because of extreme weather, because of wildfire proximity where we have to deenergize power lines, now more of the population has electricity through storage.”
The systems will be installed in the village of El Rito, near a community college; at an Indigenous community called Picuris Pueblo; and at Taos Ski Valley, a village in the mountains.
Reyes says that Kit Carson demonstrates how utilities can help build a more resilient energy system as extreme weather grows more common.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media