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The original item was published from 12/27/2022 2:00:05 PM to 3/4/2023 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: December 30, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Las Cruces Utilities: Leaders in Natural Gas & Energy

LCU Gas line

Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 12.30.22

By C.T. Barnes 

Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) is consistently looking for the next innovative idea that will reduce their carbon footprint and the cost of utilities for the Las Cruces community. LCU is currently reducing the amount of natural gas used by mixing it with methane produced at the Jacob Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility. 

The Co-Generation Project began March 1, 2019. Since then, it has been successfully capturing methane produced from the sewage treatment process with two co-generators, mixing it with natural gas, and turning it into efficient energy used at the Jacob Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility. LCU had been developing the Co-Generation Project for three years before they opened the facility. They even purchased the generators before all plans had been approved. With an annual savings of $220,000, this process captures 100% of the methane, which is usually burned off. This process also reduces the plant’s electrical import from El Paso Electric by 30% per generator, producing 100% of the digesters’ heating needs. 

“The process of mixing methane captured by waste and turning it into efficient energy is not LCU giving up on natural gas but finding ways to reduce consumption with a new bi-product,” stated LCU Utilities Deputy Director Natural Gas and Energy, Lucio M. Garcia, P.E., CEM.

LCU is the only utilities municipality in the region using this type of technology to produce energy by recycling methane instead of releasing it back into the environment. “We have been finding ways to use solar energy, as well as put in a facility that recycles methane from wastewater long before any law or regulation told us to,” LCU Deputy Director Wastewater Laura Montoya pointed out. 

The process of recycling methane has significantly reduced utility costs for the Jacob Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility. The facility is even producing its own electricity by using the recycled methane to generate the electricity used to power the plant and properly dispose of the wastewater. “They are only charged for the natural gas they use outside of the methane they are producing from the digester and turning into energy,” stated Garcia. 

LCU does not just focus on natural gas as a line of business, but energy as whole. This project is part of a diversified portfolio LCU is building for the betterment of the Las Cruces community. 

The next project LCU is looking into is a community solar application that will bring solar energy to low-to-moderate income customers. This will involve installing a solar facility to create affordable and renewable energy for those who may not have the means to buy solar panels themselves. LCU is partnering with New Mexico State University (NMSU) engineering programs to help develop future projects. 

 LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: 

For emergencies, call Dispatch at 575-526-0500. 


PHOTO 1: LCU team member working on a natural gas line-Courtesy LCU

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