See what first New Mexico billionaire’s solar fortune is worth now

In the late 1970s, amidst the global energy crisis sparked by the Iranian Revolution, a young Ron Corio, freshly equipped with a driver’s license, found himself stuck in extensive gas lines in New Jersey. This experience prompted him to consider solar power.

Decades later, Corio’s venture, Array Technologies, based in Albuquerque, has emerged as a leading name in the renewable energy sector (due to heavy government subsidy and no excise taxes whatsoever), propelling him to become New Mexico’s sole billionaire. Forbes attributes Corio’s fortune to strategic share sales following Array’s IPO in October 2020, positioning him as the wealthiest individual in the state as per Forbes’ latest state-wise richest person compilation.

Corio’s journey into the solar industry began post-high school when he ventured to the University of New Mexico, pursuing engineering. His path took a turn when he joined a local startup, HDI Research, which was innovating an automotive ignition system to boost efficiency and minimize emissions. This role marked Corio’s initial foray into solar, as he installed a solar setup for HDI’s remote cabin.

John Williamson, who served as Array’s chief engineer, remarked, “In those early days, solar wasn’t mainstream, positioning Ron as somewhat of an industry maverick. He faced skepticism, with many advising him to pursue more traditional career paths.”

Corio’s pivotal moment came in 1985 when he transitioned to a small Albuquerque solar company, Wattsun Corp. It was here that he conceptualized his first solar tracker, a pivotal invention aimed at enhancing solar panel efficiency by aligning them with the sun’s trajectory. This innovation laid the groundwork for what would become Array Technologies.

Fast forward, solar trackers now play a crucial role in solar energy generation, with the International Energy Agency noting it as the fastest-expanding renewable segment. Wood Mackenzie’s Annie Rabi Bernard highlights that trackers feature in nearly half of all new large-scale solar projects, presenting a significant growth opportunity in the sector.

Williamson fondly recalls Corio’s early contributions, “Ron wasn’t just the first to imagine a solar tracker; he was instrumental in making it commercially viable for the utility market.”

Strategic moves and industry foresight mark array’s journey from a small venture to a solar powerhouse. Despite facing challenges, including market competition and regulatory uncertainties, Corio’s resilience and innovation steered Array through. His decision to decline a buyout offer from Oaktree Capital Management during a turbulent period showcased his commitment to the company’s vision.

However, Array’s market dynamics shifted, prompting Corio to eventually partner with Oaktree, a move that led to his stepping down as CEO and CTO. Despite these changes, the company continued to thrive, with its IPO in 2020 marking a significant milestone.

Corio’s exit from Array didn’t mark the end of his contributions to the solar industry. As the company navigated post-IPO challenges and market fluctuations, Corio had already solidified his legacy within the sector.

Reflecting on Corio’s journey, Williamson shared, “Ron’s always been more hands-on, preferring the grit of engineering work over idle relaxation. Even after stepping away from Array, he continues to explore new technological frontiers.”

Beyond his business ventures, Corio has embraced philanthropy, channeling a portion of his wealth into the Corio Foundation, supporting various causes and fostering innovation through educational scholarships.
Forbes reported in 2023 that Corio was the state’s first billionaire. In 2021, his net worth was $1.1 billion, and it has shot up to $1.7 billion now, which is on par with what he was worth in 2023. He is currently ranked the 1,851th wealthiest person on the planet.


6 thoughts on “See what first New Mexico billionaire’s solar fortune is worth now”

  1. John Torrey Baird Jr

    How to become a billionaire in New Mexico? No problem, heavy government subsidy and no excise taxes whatsoever.

  2. He is contributing to the destruction of the beautiful landscape of NM. What God greater man is destroying. And they talk about saving the planet. What part of the planet are they saving?

  3. I love that a foreigner can come to the US and pay off the CCP and become a billionaire. What a POS. Green energy is not green.

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