Solar Power Installation
You’ve decided to build a solar power source for your home. Be sure to check with New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to determine what solar market development tax credits are available and how you can take advantage of them. This page will let you know what to expect from the DPU as you work with us and the Los Alamos Community Development Department to accomplish your safe, approved, and interconnected solar installation.
Note that as of February 24, 2021, the DPU charges
$360 for a Residential Net Meter, and
$450 for a Commercial Net Meter.
CDD charges for Building Permit Fees are based on the total valuation for the project.
Most applicants hire a designer or purchase a solar design with which to complete a Customer Owned Generation Application, providing a PV/thermal array diagram using the DPU sketch provided for guidance. Application/Sketch packet will need to include the following.
- A maximum system size of 10kW. The system must be sized to offset current consumption.
- Inverter detail (state will permit it). Include a brochure or factory detail describing make and model.
- Identified placement of meter, showing proximity to gas lines (not within 3 feet).
- Identified placement of physical disconnect lever. State whether applicant intends to use existing meter or a new one.
- There may be several iterations with DPU while topology and equipment are adjusted for compliance. There will be a need for a meter between the solar PV equipment and the home to measure production. This is shown in the diagram included in the application package.
2. LOCAL AND STATE PERMITS
Once DPU approves the planned PV array via the Customer Owned Generation Application, both the DPU Interconnection Agreement (for net metering) and the CDD Building Permit processes can begin simultaneously. Using the DPU-approved Cogeneration Agreement with its diagram, you can execute a Building Permit application with CDD who will watch for the following items:
- system weight for roof load;
- pounds per square foot;
- nature of attachment mechanism in terms of wind load;
- proper flashing on system to prevent roof leaks;
- appropriate location for PV array in consideration of features such as setbacks, utility easements and drainage easements.
DPU cannot install a new net meter without a completed inspection and permit from the State of New Mexico's Construction Industries Division (CID) and the County of Los Alamos Community Development Department (CDD). The production meter must be installed by the customer's contractor. Contractors will arrange inspections and permits on behalf of homeowners, but is is important for customers to be aware of these requirements. Once the utility net meter is installed, the customer will receive the signed agreement from DPU for net metering. This agreement also serves as the Notice to Proceed.
3. NET METERING
Upon successful completion of the Cogeneration Agreement and Building Permit, you will be poised to finalize the DPU Interconnection Agreement to enable a credit for any excess energy production to be applied to the utility bill. If electricity generated exceeds electricity consumed by the ratepayer during a billing period, the net metering rate paid back to the customer will be the retail rate.
4. HELPFUL CONTACTS AND RESOURCES
Department of Public Utilities
Mariano Montoya, Associate Engineer
Community Development Department
Building Permit Information
Construction Industries Division
State of New Mexico's Construction Industries Division
(505) 222-9813 in the Albuquerque area or
(877) 243-0979 from any other location in New Mexico.