Overview of Energy Projects Funded by the Recovery Act
The Recovery Act presents many opportunities to advance greater energy efficiency for New Mexico homes, schools and public buildings.
The State Energy Plan, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, home weatherization and advanced energy research will boost New Mexico's status as a leader in clean energy.
Many projects are underway, putting New Mexicans to work in urban and rural New Mexico. These projects will be located in schools, colleges, local governments, and tribal communities all over the state.
Investments from the Recovery Act today will pay off for future generations, and the savings in energy costs can be spent elsewhere.
Traffic Signal LED Retrofit Project
Funding Recipient: New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department
Award: $5 million (Project will come in under budget. Unused funds will be reallocated to other ARRA projects.)
Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Energy
In May 2009 the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department teamed with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to begin a Recovery Act project aimed at a statewide retrofit of all incandescent traffic, warning, and pedestrian signal lamps with light emitting diode (LED) signals. The project was completed in April 2010.
Thousands of new LED traffic signal lamps installed at 330 intersections throughout New Mexico will save up to 80% of energy used for conventional incandescent lights that run 24/7. The statewide retrofit is estimated to save over 4 million kilowatt hours annually. From Santa Teresa to Raton, from Shiprock to Hobbs, and in 28 other communities in between, the LED retrofit of state highway traffic intersections is already giving towns and municipalities throughout New Mexico much-reduced utility bills and big energy savings. LED traffic light arrays use 6 to 12 watts of power per lamp (depending on the color), compared to 150 watts used by the each of the incandescent light bulbs they replaced. In addition, LED lamps are much brighter, providing improved safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, and last four to nine years longer, affording lower maintenance costs. Flashing lights used for school crossings, advance warnings, and intersections were also retrofit with LEDs at over 250 statewide locations.
The communities and the number of intersections in the Recovery Act-funded project include Artesia (6), Aztec (4), Bayard (1), Bernalillo County (39), Bloomfield (2), Carlsbad (10), Clovis (25), Farmington (57), Fruitland (1), Grants (6), Hobbs (33), Kirtland (1), La Luz (1), Las Cruces (58), Los Alamos (3), Los Ranchos de Albuquerque (2), Lovington (3), Moriarty (2), Peralta (1), Portales (5), Questa (1), Raton (6), Roswell (18), Ruidoso (9), San Juan County (1), Santa Fe County (4), Santa Teresa (2), Shiprock (5), Silver City (10), Sunland Park (1), Truth or Consequences (1), Taos (10), and Tucumcari (2). Albuquerque is replacing its traffic lights under a separate program.
Source: Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department
RECOVERY DOLLARS AT WORK
School leaders in Magdalena are using the sun to lower propane use and provide students with a unique educational opportunity.
The Magdalena Municipal School District received a $119,800 Recovery Act grant in December 2009 from the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. This enabled school officials to install eight solar thermal panels to heat water for the cafeteria and gymnasium, which in turn significantly lowers the district's propane consumption.
A separate solar thermal system was installed to heat a new greenhouse with radiant floor heating, providing an additional educational opportunity for the district's high school students. (The greenhouse was built with separate funds.)
“On bright, sunny days, the cafeteria solar system is so efficient, and the water is so hot that we add cold water to temper it for kitchen use.” said Anthony Chavez, the District Maintenance Supervisor.
“The easiest way to give you an idea of what we're saving is that 90 degrees of the water heating for the gymnasium showers is provided through the solar panels. Now we only have to use our propane to heat it up 10 to 15 degrees more,” explains Keri James, the grant coordinator for the school district.
“Basically, everybody in this school district is impacted by this project, because we are all in one building and share our gym, library, and cafeteria,” said James.
Superintendent Mike Chambers estimates the savings from the investment in renewable energy could be 20 percent, or about $20,000 per year. The district spent more than $100,000 on propane alone in 2009.
The district, located in rural Socorro County, has about 450 students from preschool through 12th-grade. Some high school students were involved in the construction and installation.
“When the school is saving money on costs, then we can direct more toward student activities,” said James. “For a small town like Magdalena, that pretty much impacts everybody.”
On the rolling plains of eastern New Mexico, a visionary school leader is creating a better place for her students, and her town.
Superintendent Patricia Miller of Ft. Sumner Municipal Schools is leading an effort to replace an aging boiler and swamp cooler system with geothermal energy to heat and cool the main gym and cafeteria.
The Recovery Act has clearly delivered in a big way for Ft. Sumner Municipal Schools – $500,000 for energy efficiency upgrades via the State Energy Program.
The district's 321 students, from preschool through 12th grade, will see upgrades in heating, cooling, and lighting in the gym and cafeteria. This same building serves as the center of most community events in rural De Baca county, population 1,907.
“This is where everybody goes and this is the building that everybody uses for every community event,” Miller said. “It's not just the heart of the campus...The school is the heart of the community.”
Miller expects the new geothermal heating and cooling system to pay for itself in less than nine years, and anticipates annual energy savings of 25 percent. “Every dollar that you save on energy expenses is a dollar that you can put back into the classroom,” Miller said.
When asked about the Recovery Act, Miller said, “Our belief as a nation is that together we can make a big difference...I don't see how America could survive unless we invest in where the children are.”