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Local solar company expects to grow

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The head of New Mexico Solar Group says that the company is planning to add more employees and expand more into the commercial sector in the Roswell area. (Submitted Photo)

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A solar company that began operating in the Roswell and southeast New Mexico region about three years ago plans to expand its workforce and business market in the area as the statewide industry is expected to almost double in the next five years.

New Mexico Solar Group LLC has about 15 full-time and contract employees working with its Roswell operations, said Nick Kadlec, president and chief executive officer for the company that provides solar panel systems for residences and businesses.

He said the company wants to add another installation crew for the Roswell area and intends to make an application for Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) funds to hire and train another four people.

The program administered by the New Mexico Economic Development Department helps to pay a portion of new or existing employees’ wages as they are trained for new positions.

In November 2020, New Mexico Solar received $140,494 to hire and train up to 10 employees for local positions that had a starting wage of $17.50 an hour.

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Kadlec said eight of the people hired with that funding remain with the company, which is an employee-owned business with about 93 full-time employees statewide. Other offices are in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Alamogordo. The company also works in El Paso, Texas.

New Mexico Solar finances, permits, installs and maintains rooftop and ground-mounted solar panels. The trade media outlet Solar Power World has included the company on its 2021 Top Solar Contractors List, although information about state and national rankings is not publicly available yet.

New Mexico Solar officials said the company has installed 8,010 kilowatts in 2020 and about 20,000 kilowatts since it began operations in 2016. A company officer also said that more than 2,000 kilowatts have been added to the Roswell area.

Kadlec said opening the Roswell office helped the company make the Solar Power World list. He also said that the company will continue to make residential customers its primary business, but is looking to increase its work with commercial customers in Chaves County.

“Roswell is one of the regions where we are hoping to do more commercial work for businesses,” he said. “We can really work with almost any type of business. The only ones that become problematic are when they have really high usage but have limited roof space or ground space.”

He said New Mexico Solar has installed solar panel systems for restaurants, agribusinesses and commercial real estate properties. The company plans to work with local dairies in the future.

He said some companies can qualify for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That provides up to $20,000 in grants or a combination of grants and loans to qualifying agribusinesses or small businesses in rural areas that install renewable energy or energy efficient systems.

The Solar Energy Industries Association indicates that New Mexico has 72 solar energy companies, with 46 of those being installation companies. As of the first quarter of 2021, New Mexico ranked 14th in the United States for projected industry growth, with an additional 2,079 megawatts expected to be added in the next five years. Currently the state has 1,211 megawatts installed, according to the association, which can generate enough power for 287,628 homes. The trade group also indicated that the state derives about 6.1% of its electricity from solar power.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.