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A global solar panel supply bottleneck is frustrating plans to abandon an aging coal-fired power plant in New Mexico next year and raising concerns the state may be unable to keep the lights on as it weans its electricity sector from fossil fuels.

New Mexico’s biggest utility warned state regulators this week that a large planned solar project will not be fully operational until a year after expected retirement of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. Earlier this year, the utility flagged other solar capacity delays.

This has prompted questions from state officials about whether the coal plant might need to keep operating beyond its scheduled retirement date of June 2022.

Public Service Company of New Mexico plans to close the 847-megawatt San Juan plant, the state’s second-biggest source of pollution and greenhouse gases. It has pledged to source electricity from only carbon-free sources by 2040, while New Mexico has a state mandate to phase out fossil fuels in power production by 2045..

[Nichola Groom]

More: Solar supply squeeze frustrates New Mexico’s move away from coal

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