Construction on the first PNM utility-scale solar energy facility started at the Reeves Generating Station in northern Albuquerque along Paseo del Norte in late January. First Solar, the company building the 2 megawatt facility, says it could be complete as early as the end of February. Four 5 megawatt facilities will also be built this year in Los Lunas, Las Vegas, Alamogordo and Deming, with construction taking about two months on each.
PNM employees Gary Barnard, Dir. of Generation Plan & Dev., Evelin Wheeler, Exec. Dir. Of Generation Plan and Dev., and Tom Kelly, Project Manager, prepare to install the first solar panel at the Reeves Solar Facility.
The facilities were part of a plan PNM submitted to the NM Public Regulation in 2010 to try to meet the various requirements of the growing New Mexico renewable portfolio standard. Other parts of the plan include contracting for a new facility to turn dairy waste into gas to run existing power plants, expanding the PNM customer-owned solar program and buying third-party wind energy and renewable credits.
New Mexico’s renewable energy aim is to strike a balance between cost, environmental benefits and diversity of generation resources. In 2012, PNM is asking that the cost impact to customers take priority over the other two parts of the rule. PNM will meet the state requirement of 10 percent renewable energy this year but will come up short in 2012. Here's why:
- The state has a customer protection that limits the amount that renewable energy can increase customer bills. The cap is 2 percent in 2011 and 2.25 percent in 2012.
- PNM is able to stay within that cost guideline in 2011 but not in 2012 in part because only a portion of the company’s solar projects are included in 2011 costs, and because participation in our customer-owned solar PV program is expected to grow. That customer program is the most expensive component of the plan.