Resilient El Rito
Resilient El Rito (RER) is a proposed community resilience microgrid project in the village of El Rito, NM, based on and around the branch campus of Northern NM College (NNMC) located there. The NNMC campus is a historical treasure and the original site of the College, but has been underutilized in recent years.
The village is served by Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) at the end of a single electric power distribution line that traverses mountainous terrain and wilderness, and is subject to reliability and resilience challenges common to rural isolated areas, including climate-induced wildfires and winds.
The RER project is a collaboration between NNMC and KCEC, supported by the Microgrid Systems Laboratory and Camus Energy, with objectives in keeping with those institutions’ visions and goals. It will:
Utilize the 1.5 megawatt PV array installed on campus in partnership with KCEC
Enable the El Rito community to sustain critical needs and activities during an extended power outage
Provide an unparalleled workforce training environment for NNMC’s students
Support KCEC in its efforts to serve its customers and modernize its system with 100% renewable energy.
It could also support R&D, demonstration, testing, and validation activities with research universities, National Laboratories, and entrepreneurs. Thereby providing additional educational opportunities for students and advanced technology for KCEC, creating economic development opportunities for the region, and attracting supplemental funding.
photo credit: Kit Carson Electric Cooperative.
Gallup Solar’s Solar Team Program provides an entry to jobs in the growing solar energy field and brings clean energy to some of the15,000 Navajo (Diné) homes not connected to the electrical grid. Each trainee completes five remote-learning classes and installs a free small solar PV system and DC refrigerator in an off-grid Diné home.
Our fifth Solar Team, supported by a grant from Remy’s Good Day Fund, has ten Navajo members. This team’s installations will improve the health of team members or a relative through refrigeration for medicines and fresh food. Gallup Solar also creates economic opportunity through solar workforce education. And Diné culture is supported by making it possible to live safely in off-grid ancestral homes.
Many Solar Team graduates stay connected to our program, attending our bi-weekly meetings and sharing feedback and advice. Some with construction backgrounds are paid a stipend to assist new trainees install the solar systems safely and securely. We are creating a community of empowered solar advocates: empowered to install their own electricity systems, promote renewable energy, become professional installers, speak at chapter houses and conferences, and help others live securely in a fossil-fuel free world.
photo credit: courtesy of Gallup Solar