ETZ citizens’ group approves two solar permits

Appeal of one case expected to be heard in June

Two more permits that would allow for community solar projects were approved by the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission, although one has been appealed.

Chaves County Planning and Zoning Director Louis Jaramillo said Friday that the ETZ Commission voted 5-2 to approve a special use permit for CVE North America Inc. and 7-0 to approve the same type of permit for OneEnergy Renewables for possible projects on North Brown Road, should the projects be approved by state officials. The commission met Tuesday night.

Jaramillo also said that the CVE North America case has been appealed to the ETZ Authority, which is expected to convene in June to hear the matter.

The commission is a citizens’ body, but the authority is made up of Chaves County commissioners and Roswell City Council members to decide appeals and to make final decisions regarding the ETZ Ordinance. The ETZ groups have jurisdiction over county properties within 2 miles of the Roswell city limits.

Changing Visions of Energy (CVE) North America Inc., which is based in France but has offices in New York, wants to develop a 5 megawatt community solar project on property owned by Featherstone Development Corp. The vacant land is almost 44 acres, according to county documents, and is in the 1100 to 1200 block of North Brown Road, next to the Roswell Relief Route.

Carson Weinand, the representative with CVE, did not respond to phone messages, but his letter submitted with the permit application indicated that the company intended to make a $10,000 donation to an environmental group to benefit the local community and that the solar project, if constructed, would help people by providing lower-cost electricity to up to 1,000 subscribers that could amount to $2.5 million in savings over the 25-year initial operational period of the project.

Jaramillo said that an adjacent property owner and someone living about a quarter-mile away requested the appeal. Some residential homes are located to the south of the Featherstone property.

Jaramillo said that OneEnergy Renewables, which wants to build a 5 megawatt “Iris Solar” facility at 500 N. Brown Road, submitted a packet that included a lot of completed studies regarding possible impacts of its project. The vacant land of about 44 acres is owned by Karen and Brian Davis.

OneEnergy Manager and Project Developer Nathan Stottler indicated that the company provided an archaeological and cultural impacts study, an environmental impact study, a wildlife study, a wetlands study and a glare report.

He said the wildlife and wetland studies “indicated no negative impacts to wildlife, habitat or wetlands.” The glare report “shows that the project is not expected to create glare for any neighboring buildings within one-half mile of the site, any nearby streets/roads or the Roswell airport.”

Stottler said the company also mailed letters to all nearby property owners to notify them about the potential project and followed up with personal visits to nearby residential property owners.

“The neighbors raised no concerns during our conversations,” Stottler wrote in an email.

This is the first such application in the county for OneEnergy. Stottler said it does have other potential solar project plans in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Public Regulations Commission is due to enter a contract with one or more firms by July to serve as administrators of the Community Solar Act and the regulations that have been developed to implement it. After that, a request for proposals from solar development companies is expected to be issued, with evaluations and rankings of proposed projects anticipated by October.

Until the end of an initial assessment period in 2024, community solar projects will be limited to 100 megawatts annually statewide, with each project capped at 5 megawatts a year. Only 40 megawatts a year will be allowed in the area served by Xcel Energy or Southwestern Public Service area, which includes Chaves County.

So far only one other permit for a community solar project has been approved on county property. That was for a possible project by Cenergy Power or BAP Power Corp. of California on land north of Roswell near the U.S. 70 and U.S. 285 interchange.

CVE North America has received preliminary approval from the Chaves County Planning and Zoning Commission for a permit for a proposed project on Tumbleweed Road in Dexter. That case is required to be decided by the Chaves County commissioners and has been scheduled for the board’s Thursday meeting.

Author: systems