N.M. regulators approve 22 MW of utility scale solar build

Albuquerque, September 1, 2010 – Plans to add utility-scale solar power facilities by PNM Resources’ New Mexico utility, PNM, were unanimously approved by state regulators.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved 22 MW of utility-scale solar power facilities that will involve various sites throughout New Mexico. Regulators capped the facilities’ cost at $101.7 million. Construction is slated for completion by the end of 2011.

PNM plans to file for recovery of those costs through a rate rider that would be implemented one year after new PNM rates, which currently are under consideration, are effective.

Costs incurred by a New Mexico utility that are consistent with an approved renewable energy plan are deemed reasonable and recoverable in rates under state law.

The solar addition to PNM’s rate base and subsequent recovery is expected add about $0.03 to $0.05 to earnings per diluted share in 2012.

“We are pleased that the commission recognized the significance of adding renewable energy to our existing generation resources,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources president and CEO. “Our industry, along with regulators, needs to continue to look for ways to add renewable power while balancing the cost impact to consumers. This is the first step toward achieving that goal and meeting the state’s requirement to diversify our energy resources.”

The solar power approval modifies a hearing examiner’s recommendation that rejected PNM’s entire renewable energy plan that called for adding 80 MW of solar power, including 45 MW of utility-scale facilities.

Along with approving the smaller solar utility-scale plan, the commission also approved a plan to build a one-half megawatt solar power and storage demonstration project that is partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In addition, the commission modified other residential and business customer initiatives that could add solar power to New Mexico’s energy mix. New Mexico law requires PNM and other electric utilities to have 10 percent of the energy they generate come from renewable resources such as wind and solar by 2011.

 

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