Cimarron Forestry Office
Ute Park, New Mexico
The Energy Conservation and Management Division (ECMD) of New Mexico has made the State Forestry Division Cimarron District Office, one of its most remote offices, more resilient through a recently installed solar PV and battery storage system (solar+storage). Reliable power will ensure that the Cimarron District can effectively communicate with local fire departments, the community, and other agencies during a wildfire emergency.
Resilient and reliable communications was a top priority for the ECMD. The office currently experiences two to three power outages per year due to high winds and heavy snow. The Cimarron District Office typically relies on a staff of two to four people in normal conditions. However, in the event of a forest fire, the facility becomes the Fire Command Center for the northwestern region of New Mexico to lead fire suppression support efforts of upwards of 300 firefighters. In these instances, the office must hold 20 people as well as more computers and plotters to produce real-time maps. Depending on when power outages occur, fire suppression operations could be interrupted or shut down for hours or even days.
The solar+storage system is comprised of a 10.62kW solar array and 8-kilowatts / 16-kilowatt-hour lead acid battery storage system working in parallel with a 20-kilowatt backup propane generator. The solar+storage system, without the generator, is expected to be able to power up to 8 hours of critical loads during both normal hours and surge times (when the facility becomes a Fire Command Center). If the site operators manually manage the loads, and solar is consistently available, the system could provide backup power for 24 hours. The solar+storage system is expected to reduce utility costs by 90 percent and help provide an additional safeguard to save on costs related to replacing damaged equipment due to power quality issues (estimated to cost the facility $1000-$2000 annually).
The batteries, rooftop solar array, and related equipment cost $79,200. The system was paid for and is owned by The Energy Conservation and Management Division of New Mexico. The ECMD plans on replicating the project for other Divisions across the state.
This project was awarded a Resilient Power Technical Assistance Fund grant from Clean Energy Group to conduct technical and financial feasibility analyses for solar+storage.
Year Commissioned: 2019
Services Provided: Backup Power
Supported Infrastructure: Well water pump, radio base stations, handheld radio charging stands, icemaker, electric tools, vehicle battery chargers, garage door openers, phone system, computer servers, lighting, computers, kitchen prep area, refrigerator, ceiling fan, and floor fans
Project Partners: Energy Conservation and Management Division, State Forestry Division Cimarron District Office, Clean Energy Group, American Microgrid Solutions
Resilient Power Project Case Study – Cimarron District Forestry Office (Clean Energy Group, February 2020). This case study includes technical and financial details, as well as lessons learned over the course of the project. Read it here.