Block Energy, Utility PNM Collaborating on Residential Microgrid in New Mexico

Feb. 26, 2024
PNM will own and operate the microgrid, including the solar panels, battery storage and control system in a long-term plan. Customers connected to the grid and microgrid will remain on standard residential rates.

Residential microgrid developer Block Energy will work with New Mexico utility PNM to create a pilot  project in a new Santa Fe housing subdivision.

PNM announced Monday that it is planning a microgrid project to connect the Tierra Que Canta 22-home subdivision with distributed energy resources (DERs) including solar and battery storage assets. The DERs would be connected directly to the local distribution system to power the homes and also deliver energy to the grid system when needed.

Tierra Que Canta is planned as part of the Las Campanas housing development in Santa Fe. No expenses would be charged to any of PNM’s customers outside of the pilot project, according to the utility.

PNM will own and operate the microgrid, including the solar panels, battery storage and control system in a long-term plan. Customers connected to the grid and microgrid will remain on standard residential rates.

“This is a great opportunity for us to learn more about microgrids and how they interact with our grid,” PNM CEO and President Don Tarry said in a statement. “This also gives the customers who buy homes in this area an opportunity to reap the benefits of a microgrid while not impacting those who don’t live there.”

PNM will study the outcomes from this system’s operation to possibly expand those learnings into other future housing developments, the utility said.

 

Block Energy has gained deeper experience with East Coast residential microgrid projects utilizing its BlockEnergy storage system. One BlockEnergy-deployed project is operational in Tampa, Florida, while another was announced recently for Fairmount Heights, Maryland.

“We are focused on developing an innovative approach to power new residential communities with renewable energy in a way that provides unprecedented reliability and resiliency,” Block Energy Chief Operating Officer Paul Laberge said. “This pilot project is not just about powering a subdivision — it’s about pioneering a new model for energy delivery that can be scaled for future housing developments while benefitting all PNM customers.”

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In October 2023, Block Energy announced it would work with Maryland utility Pepco on a solar-storage residential microgrid connecting six family homesites at an affordable housing complex in Fairmount Heights.

In Tampa, the BlockEnergy battery storage is deployed with solar in the Southshore Bay housing development , which is pictured in the main photo at top of this story. This microgrid installation, completed with local utility Tampa Electric, serves about 37 homes, according to reports.

In both of these projects, the BlockEnergy residential battery storage system is combined with solar panels supplied by an outside partner.

 PNM is New Mexico’s largest electricity provider with nearly 550,000 customers.

Las Campanas is a 4,700-acre gated community at the base of the Sangre de Christo Mountains.

 

About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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