April 20, 2011
PNM’s First Large-Scale Solar Plant Up and Running
Albuquerque: Joined by Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry, U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich and others, PNM officials today dedicated the Albuquerque Solar Energy Center -- the largest facility of its kind in Albuquerque and the company’s first large-scale solar power plant.
Comprised of 30,000 solar photovoltaic panels on 20 acres, the solar center has been generating electricity for customers since April 8. It can produce up to 2 megawatts of power. Over the course of a year, it will generate enough electricity to power about 630 average-sized New Mexico homes. The emission-free resource will offset about 4 million pounds of carbon annually, in addition to offsets of other emissions from fossil fuel-fired generation.
The center was built on PNM-owned land next to the company’s natural gas-fired Reeves Generating Station on Paseo del Norte in northeast Albuquerque.
"We have really smart people in New Mexico who work hard at keeping us on the forefront of innovation when it comes to energy independence, reliability and innovative new technologies," Mayor Berry said. "Congratulations to PNM on pioneering this project for our community."
Rep. Heinrich said: “There is simply no reason that Albuquerque or America should settle for second best when it comes to clean energy. We need to continue supporting this kind of success story that embodies New Mexico’s leadership in innovation and clean energy technology.”
PNM President and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn highlighted the facility as a “meaningful first step into large-scale solar.” The company will build four additional solar centers in New Mexico this year, each of them with 5 megawatts of capacity, or two-and-a-half times larger than the Albuquerque facility. Those centers will be built in the New Mexico cities of Los Lunas, Deming, Alamogordo and Las Vegas and will be constructed and producing energy by the end of 2011.
“The five solar plants together will offset 44 million pounds of carbon, or the equivalent of removing 4,500 cars from the road – a relatively small but important contribution toward lowering the impact of power production on our environment,” Vincent-Collawn said.
PNM’s customer-owned solar program, in which PNM pays customers both for the excess energy they generate and for the environmental attributes of the energy they produce, is growing and should add an additional 23 megawatts of solar power to PNM’s grid. “Together, the new solar plants and customer-owned solar systems that are being added to the grid almost every day will give us 45 megawatts of clean, emissions-free solar power.”
The plants are being built as part of the company’s effort to comply with the New Mexico renewable portfolio standard, which currently requires that 10 percent of energy provided to customers come from renewable resources.
The company added 200 megawatts of wind energy capacity to its system in 2003. At the time of its construction, the New Mexico Wind Energy Center, near House, N.M., was the third largest wind farm in the world.