RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Developers are hoping to turn part of Quail Ranch’s Master plan into one of the biggest solar farms in the metro. In 2003, the City of Rio Rancho adopted Bernalillo County’s 1990 Quail Ranch master plan to create a mixed-use development site. The housing project in Rio Rancho is located near Double Eagle Airport and developers are hoping to use over 3,000 acres of unused land to construct an energy zone of solar panels.

“This is a way to put that land to beneficial use, create green energy and do it in a way that doesn’t undermine the original intent of the master plan,” said Consensus planning developer, James Strozier.

Developers say the site will generate about 400 megawatts of renewable energy per day, allow for solar generation storage, and include a distribution system to help ease stress on the grid during peak energy consumption. “In the summer when its 95-100 degrees and everyone is running their air conditioning and crank it up once they get home we are there to help with our battery to dispatch and help alleviate that load,” said Clenera Project Manager, Eric Desmarais.

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Currently, the developer has a purchase agreement with PNM. With the amount of power that would be generated, it would give electricity to about 150,000 homes. People who live near the project site have raised concerns. “My property is within 100 feet of this site. I’m not against renewable energy in any way but I guess if it’s within 100 feet, I do have concerns,” said Paul Zamora. Zamora says he is concerned over the safety of nearby residential housing, but developers say that won’t be a problem. However, if approved, the panels could pose a risk to flying aircraft.

“The FAA will require us to submit information to them they’re going to review that. If they decide that we need to do a glare study, we will of course do that study,” added Strozier.

Once the FAA reviews the project and the location, they will make that determination. The project passed planning and zoning and is now going for vote in front of the whole city council. If approved, the solar farm would be up and running by June 2024.