Texas commission approves small solar projects for El Paso Energy

The Texas Public Utility Commission on Dec. 10 approved an application by El Paso Electric covering five small solar projects.

“This order addresses the application of El Paso Electric Company (EPE) to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to include five solar generation projects,” the order said. “The projects represent a total installed capacity of approximately 2.6 megawatts (MW) at a total cost of approximately $9,544,345 excluding allowance for funds used during construction.”

The largest of the proposed facilities is a 2.5-MW ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system to be constructed on land surrounding the Newman generation station in northeast El Paso. The other four units are smaller solar photovoltaic systems – at the customer service center in Van Horn; on the roof of the Stanton building in downtown El Paso; at the Wrangler substation in east El Paso; and at the El Paso Community College. With the exception of the Van Horn system, these smaller systems are already constructed and in operation.

The record is uncontroverted regarding the purely experimental status of the four smaller systems, the commission noted. Conflicting evidence was presented regarding whether the larger system to be constructed at Newman is being built for experimental purposes only. The Newman project will provide 2.5 MW (AC) of capacity and is scheduled to be completed by June 1, 2013.

El Paso’s current renewable energy generation facilities in Texas consist of the wind-powered, 1-MW Hueco Mountain Wind Ranch and the 64.3-kW solar powered facility at Newman.

In New Mexico, El Paso purchases power from two renewable energy facilities (from a 1-MW landfill facility that produces methane and a 6-kW solar facility). In New Mexico, El Paso also has purchased power contracts with three other entities for a total of 47 MW of solar-powered generation. Two of these projects – totaling 25 MW – entered service in 2011, and two projects – totaling 22 MW – are scheduled for service in 2012.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.