#HeroesofFreeingEnergy: Luis Reyes

“Never underestimate how much communities want their local electric co-ops to be successful. They do their homework. I think a key is educating your members and letting them choose. 

“Kit Carson is a cooperative electric utility, headquartered here in Taos, New Mexico. We have about 30,000 members, and we’ve been in existence since 1937. We’ve found that people have real interest in their energy, and many are concerned about climate change.

“About 2010, we started to really push for more renewable energy. In 2016 We found Guzman Energy to help with 3more renewables  and then found local champions within the community who could be the face of the co-op’s message that we could become 100% daytime renewable by 2022. 

“The reason we chose solar is the board formed a member committee composed of members of the cooperative to assist on this question of renewable energy, ‘If we go renewable, what resource should we use — wind, hydro, solar, geothermal?’ At the end, it was the members who decided solar was the best fit.

“One of our largest arrays is at a Taos sewer plant, where we’re in essence taking a brownfield and turning it to a greenfield, but our largest solar array  is adjacent to a landfill which also helps the adjacent neighborhood with a cleaner environment.  We’re really taking this vision to fruition by actually putting hard assets in the ground.

“There were still some members concerned about the solar arrays: ‘What do you do at night? When it’s cloudy? Prices historically have been high.’ This geared us up for a big education campaign that we continue to this day. We met with Renewable Taos and discussed how we can get the community to embrace the reality that we could be successful with solar. 

“A few months later, Renewable Taos delivered probably a dozen resolutions from all the governing bodies, tribes, and counties, showing that all our jurisdictions really want to have a more sustainable, clean energy future. This gave birth to a partnership that has become incredibly strong in addressing these issues, and has created a model for other co-ops to follow for success. 

“If you look 10, 15 years into the future, you’re going to see a lot of energy storage out there and software that will enable the grid to talk to the consumer, talk to the solar array, and talk to the battery to always optimize the system. 

“What gets me most excited is that we’re finally going to deliver a product that anyone in the United States can use, and the world. We’re breaking down these old myths that this can’t be done, when here in north central New Mexico, we’re doing it. So my excitement is, we’re finally going to get a clean energy economy that is reliable and affordable.”

Luis Reyes, CEO and General Manager at Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, is one of the 320 people that author Bill Nussey interviewed for his book, “Freeing Energy: How innovators are using local-scale solar and batteries to disrupt the global energy industry from the outside in.”

Available today

Learn more about Luis from his Freeing Energy podcast with Bill Nussey.

You can see all the heroes (so far) and their stories here.

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