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How Solar Power Works

Learn how sunlight is turned into electricity

The sun’s energy can be used to produce electricity, either through photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight directly into electricity, or by solar thermal collectors that convert water to steam which runs a turbine.

Solar technology today is more costly, but solar power has no fuel costs and no air emissions or waste and uses very little water. We are involved in several projects to help test and advance promising solar technologies because more can be done to improve the output and efficiency and help bring down the cost. Certain areas of the United States have more intense sun ideal for solar energy production. We are fortunate to operate in some of these areas.

  1. When the sun shines...
  2. on a solar cell, loose electrons are created that flow to create electricity.
  3. Solar cells are combined into solar panels, which may be installed on buildings or arranged in large groups called arrays to create more power.
  4. A controller determines where electricity from the panels is used.
  5. You may use some in your home.
  6. Some may be stored in a battery for future use.
  7. Extra electricity may be distributed to your electric utility for other people to use.

Solar Power Resources

Solar Electric Power Association (external link)
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (external link)
Energy Classroom
New Mexico Community Solar Project
SolarTAC (external link)
Colorado Integrated Solar Project Fact Sheet (PDF)


Energy Saving Tip

Make sure to regularly change the air filters on your HVAC system (at least once per month). Old, clogged filters are far less efficient than new ones.


Electrical Appliance Safety

Always keep appliances clean, operating properly, and clear of obstructions. Unplug them when cleaning or repairing to avoid serious injury.

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