Public Service Co. of New Mexico is seeking New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approval to have First Solar build for it a 23-MW solar project located at three sites.
Filing Oct. 4 testimony about the application were various commission staff members. James Brack, the Economics Bureau Chief for the Utility Division Staff, said PNM proposes to contract with First Solar to construct and install, on a turn-key basis, 23 MW of photovoltaic (PV) generating capacity at three locations within a 35-mile radius of Albuquerque. This capacity is scheduled to be in service by the fourth quarter of 2014.
PNM currently has options on sites in Valencia and Sandoval counties. First Solar is the contractor that constructed PNM’s existing 22.5 MW of solar and the 20 MW currently under construction.
PNM proposes to procure energy and renewable energy credits (RECs) from the solar projects; annual generation is projected to be approximately 64,500 MWhr. PNM states that these new proposed solar projects “will operate at a higher capacity factor than previous projects due to single axis tracking. This means there will be greater energy and RECs for each kW of capacity…based on an examination of the PPA bid evaluations, the tracking system is worth about $3 per MWh, so the solar price decrease between the 2013 Plan and the 2014 Plan is a combination of a continued decline in market prices for PC panels and an improvement in single axis tracking system cost and reliability.”
PNM projects the construction cost for the 23 MW to be approximately $46.7m, including Allowance for Funds Used During Construction (AFUDC). The installed cost per kW calculates out to $2,031 per kW, which PNM compares to the $4,151 per kW cost for the 22.5 MW approved in a prior case that came on line in 2011, and the $2,288 per kW cost for the 20 MW approved in another case that is currently under construction.
John Reynolds, a Utility Economist in the Utility Division, wrote about PNM’s plans to increase its share of renewable energy resources in order to achieve renewable portfolio standard (RPS) compliance in 2015. PNM proposes the following procurements in 2014 to achieve compliance in 2015:
- The purchase of bundled RECs from the existing Red Mesa Wind Energy Center under a proposed 20-year purchased power agreement. Delivery would begin in January 2015, and PNM expects to purchase 208,200 MWh of bundled RECs in the first year.
- The development during 2014 of a utility-owned solar facility that is projected to begin providing energy in early 2015. PNM expects to generate 64,500 of bundled RECs from this facility in the first year.
- The acquisition of 120,000 unbundled wind RECs for 2015 at a unit price of $4.27/MWh.