National Electric, Albuquerque, N.M., made a statement about its commitment to solar power when it recently finished installation on one of the largest private solar systems in New Mexico — up on its own roof. With over 95,000 square feet of roof space, National believes this project will not only provide energy and cost savings for its own operations, but will give others in the community a place to observe a system of this magnitude in operation.

Installation of the solar photovoltaic (PV) system began in Nov. 2009 and took 63 days from inception to completion. The system is designed to produce 250KW, which covers about 86 percent of National's electricity usage. The system includes 1,138 220W photovoltaic panels mounted to the roof at a 20 degree tilt using a Sunlink Solar Racking System. The DC power is converted in to AC power by a 250KW DC Satcon Commercial Solar PV Inverter.

A variety of factors influenced National's decision to take on a project of this size. National wanted to enter the renewable energy market by learning first-hand what is required and what to expect in building a solar PV array system. They also had a strong desire to be environmentally conscious and lower their carbon footprint as a corporation.

“Investing in solar products today makes sense,” said Skip Lenfest, vice president sales and business development. “It allows you to lock in your energy costs now when other non solar participating businesses cannot. Taking advantage of current cash rebates and tax credits also makes this option more attractive and affordable.”

National was able to take advantage of renewable energy tax credits from federal and state governments, bonus depreciation and the Renewable Energy Credits (REC) purchase program from the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM). With the added savings opportunities, National expects to recoup its cost in about six years. After that, PNM will continue to pay National for every kilowatt it generates for another 14 years.