Lujn meets with local officials

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Congressman receives Photovoltaic Plant Project briefing

By Carol A. Clark

During his trip to Los Alamos Saturday, Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., stopped by the special County Council meeting underway in Council Chambers.

The serious mood at the heavily attended meeting, held to address a petition for changes to the County Charter, was evident as Councilor Nona Bowman became emotional while speaking to the issue.

“Our meetings aren’t always this intense,” Council Vice Chair Sharon Stover joked to Luján appearing rather puzzled from his seat near the back of the room.

As the meeting wound down, Luján left to join County Administrator Tony Mortillaro and Department of Public Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith in a side conference room.

“Our meeting with Congressman Luján was a follow-up to a meeting that had occurred earlier in December with the Congressman in his Washington, D.C. office. He specifically had requested a detailed briefing on the Photovoltaic Plant Project (PV),” Mortillaro said. “At this meeting John Arrowsmith provided an in-depth briefing on the PV.”

Arrowsmith explained that the county has requested a $30 million federal appropriations for this project. The project cost is estimated at $70 million.

“The project involves building a solar electric plant, which converts sunlight to electricity. The county and the laboratory worked together in 2008 and identified that 10 megawatts of photovoltaic generation would be needed for the county and the laboratory,” Arrowsmith said. “We also identified several potential locations for the plant including the landfill.”

The county is moving forward with a much smaller PV project at the landfill for up to 2.5 megawatts of photovoltaic generation. The project does not include federal funding and is expected to enter the construction phase by the spring of 2011.

“I also discussed with the Congressman the county’s other appropriation requests, which are $2.1 million for Transit funding, $5.9 million for extension of the airport runway and support for a extension of the Land Transfer Law. Other items discussed were related to accelerated environmental cleanup and the positive impact that the $212 million in stimulus funding was having on the cleanup of TA 21 and MDA-B and the hopes that additional fiscal resources could be allocated for consent order milestones,” Mortillaro said.

The meeting concluded with Mortillaro expressing the county’s hopes that funding for the laboratory and key infrastructure projects would be addressed and increased.