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PNM proposes to build 4 new solar plants

By Albuquerque Journal, NM

Public Service Company of New Mexico plans to build four more solar power plants at a cost of $79 million to help it meet the state standard for renewable energy in 2016.

The additional 10-megawatt solar power plants will raise the company’s solar capacity to 107 megawatts, which could provide the power used by 40,000 average homes in a year.

“We believe our proposal will help us provide dependable power cost-effectively while reducing water use and carbon emissions at power plants,” said PNM Planning and Resource Director Pat O’Connell said in a statement.

PNM filed its new procurement plant with the Public Regulation Commission on Monday. The PRC will schedule a public hearing and make a decision on the plan later this year.

Starting next year, the state will require 15 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources. PNM says it will be able to meet that requirement with a combination of solar, wind and geothermal energy, along with renewable energy certificates from its customer solar program.

The new solar will help PNM meet the renewable requirements in 2016, but it will also help replace some coal-fired generation when two of four units at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station are expected to be closed to meet federal haze requirements, the company said.

PNM, using a competitive bid process, has identified a joint venture between Albuquerque-based Affordable Solar Inc. and GranSolar S.A. to build two of the centers and Juwi Solar Inc., to build the remaining two centers.

The new solar projects will create construction jobs for qualified New Mexicans and thousands of dollars of new tax revenue for the counties where they are located. PNM is evaluating multiple sites in the central part of the state.

PNM said the new solar centers will feature polycrystalline silicon solar panels mounted on single-axis tracking devices that follow the sun. Polycrystalline silicon (or single crystal silicon) panels feature silicon that is cut into wafers and used to make the modules.

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