Non-profit Gallup Solar on organizing a solar park with the City of Gallup.

Gallup Solar (GS), a non-profit 501(c)3 citizen group, advocated and created the Sustainable Gallup Board to advise the City Council and City Manager. The Mayor made appointments to the board.

What tools, resources or financing did you use to establish your project?

GS held weekly community meetings for eight years with guest speakers, educational sessions, and consultation. Local benefactors and small grants provided the funding for this work.

Gallup Mayor Jackie McKinney and the City Council approved a Power Purchase Agreement to construct the facility on approximately 35 acres of city-owned property. The PPA provides power at 4.75 cents per kilowatt-hour over 25 years. The park will consist of almost 29,000 panels that tilt to face the sun over the course of the day.

What benefits have you realized?

On August 31, 2017, there was a formal groundbreaking by city officials at the construction site of the 8 Megawatt Gallup Solar Park, which will generate 10 percent of the city's electric usage. The city will save about $20,000 the first year of operation overpower purchased from our electrical provider, and will save approximately $785,000 by the end of the eighth year of operation. This environmental friendly project will generate enough electricity to power 2,500 homes and offset the production of 3,500,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Ninety local jobs will support construction, each starting at $14/hour and with no experience required. These new solar employment opportunities include: 23 laborers and 2 foremen for steel erection for 1-axis tracker; 31 laborers and 3 foremen for solar panel assembly; 28 laborers and 3 foremen; 1 electrical installation laborer, and a security laborer. Employment for ongoing solar operation includes 2 cleaning laborers, and a security laborer.

What challenges did you overcome to implement your project?

GS went from being largely unknown by elected officials to being honored and thanked at the new solar park groundbreaking.

What advice would you give neighboring communities who are trying to implement a similar project?

Get involved in grassroots citizen self-education and advocacy for real-world solutions to environmental issues.