July 31, 2006
New Mexico’s First Biomass Power Plant
Albuquerque: PNM and Western Water and Power Production have signed a 20-year agreement to deliver renewable energy from a new 35 megawatt biomass power plant. The plant will go into service in early 2009 and will be located in Torrance County, near Estancia, N.M. The plant will be sited on 50 acres adjacent to Tagawa Greenhouses, which will utilize waste heat from the facility to heat the greenhouse and potentially increase production.
The plant will be owned and operated by Western. PNM will purchase the power to serve its customers in New Mexico. “We are proud to have won a competitive bid to build New Mexico’s first biomass power plant,” said Jack Maddox, vice president of Western. A biomass power plant utilizes waste woody materials removed from forests and rangelands, which will reduce hazardous fires and restore the ecological health of these lands.
“PNM is committed to expanding the amount of power we purchase or produce from renewable energy resources,” commented Hugh Smith, PNM senior vice president for energy resources. “The beauty of biomass energy is that it’s good for the environment, is available 24-7 and is a perfect compliment to other renewable energy resources like solar and wind that produce electricity intermittently.”
Under state law, New Mexico electric utilities must produce or purchase at least 10 percent of their customers’ electricity requirements from renewable energy resources by 2011. PNM currently purchases wind-generated electricity from the New Mexico Wind Energy Center near Ft. Sumner, N.M. The wind and biomass projects together are projected to provide approximately 20 percent more renewable power than mandated when the biomass plant comes on-line in 2009. State law also strongly encourages that electric utilities seek a diversity of resources that could include solar and geothermal in addition to wind and biomass.
“PNM will continue to look for opportunities to acquire renewable resources to meet future customer growth needs,” Smith observed. “This biomass plant is a critical addition and will make a significant contribution to New Mexico’s renewable energy goals.”
Western will construct the plant using state-of-the-art technology that will minimize air pollution and ensure that the harvesting of biomass materials will be done in accordance with high standards for biomass removal and rangeland restoration. Compared to other forms of fossil-fueled power plants, biomass plants reduce green house gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.
“The whole point in utilizing biomass energy is to improve the environment while providing the electricity needed to meet New Mexico’s growing needs,” asserted Maddox. “Western’s plant will meet those objectives while providing new, permanent, and good jobs in rural New Mexico.”
PNM will file the agreement with Western for approval by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission within 30 days. A 35 MW plant produces enough energy to meet the needs of about 25,000 average New Mexico homes.
PNM is a subsidiary of PNM Resources, an energy holding company based in Albuquerque, N.M. PNM provides electric utility service to 426,000 customers and natural gas service to 481,000 customers in New Mexico. The company also sells power on the wholesale market in the West. PNM Resources stock is traded primarily on the NYSE under the symbol PNM. For more information, see the company's Web site at PNM.com.