Jan. 7, 2010
PNM Agreement with Environmental, Renewable Energy and Government Organizations Could Result in Major Expansion of New Mexico Solar Energy
Albuquerque: An agreement reached this week between PNM and numerous environmental, renewable energy and government groups could pave the way for one of the largest-ever expansions of solar energy in New Mexico: the addition of nearly 80 megawatts of solar power, or enough energy to power 26,000 homes.
The agreement will form the basis for a new PNM renewable plan to be filed by Jan. 25 with the N.M. Public Regulation Commission. PNM originally filed its renewable procurement plan on July 1, 2009, but agreed to refile parts of it at a later date to allow more time to incorporate input from these groups.
The agreement represents months of discussions with various parties. That effort was started when Gov. Bill Richardson assembled a group of stakeholders to reach a consensus on revising PNM’s plan. A goal of the group was to help achieve the goals in the Sept. 21, 2009, Green Jobs Cabinet Report from Gov. Richardson. Among other things, the proposal provides a new framework for rapid growth of customer-owned photovoltaic systems by creating a new system of incentives, along with a large-scale utility solar construction program.
New Mexico law requires PNM and other electric utilities by 2011 to have 10 percent of the energy they generate come from renewable resources such as wind and solar. The current requirement is 6 percent. The agreement reached will lay the groundwork to meet that requirement by including:
“Incorporating input from stakeholders is an important part of our decision-making process, so we have spent several months listening to ideas that can do more to promote the development of solar than our original July 1 filing did,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM president and COO. “We believe this new plan will provide a greater growth opportunity for solar while still minimizing the overall cost impact to customers.”
“This agreement shows a serious commitment on behalf of PNM to develop a distributed generation industry in New Mexico. The proposed plan will help New Mexico meet its economic development goals, creating green jobs and an infrastructure that will allow clean energy business to thrive for years to come,” said Brian Cassutt, board member of the Renewable Energy Industries Association of New Mexico and finance director for Consolidated Solar Technologies. “This is a crucial step in making New Mexico a leader in solar energy.”
As part of the original filing, PNM will continue to pursue the biogas project it proposed in July to help meet the state renewable requirement. Through that project, PNM would rely on fuel derived from dairy waste to help supply its Luna Energy Facility near Deming, N.M. That project recently was approved by the PRC.
The plan to be filed by Jan. 25 requires PRC approval. Based on the expected timeline for that approval, PNM could begin construction of the new large-scale solar facilities as early as mid-2010, with the first project operational by early 2011. The customer-owned facilities would be operational later this year if PRC approval is obtained by mid-year.
Parties to the agreement currently include:
Note: All resources are listed in alternating current (AC) ratings for capacity.
PNM is a subsidiary of PNM Resources, an energy holding company based in Albuquerque, N.M. PNM provides electric utility service to about 500,000 retail customers in New Mexico. 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.