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New Mexico regulators approve utility’s replacement power plans for closing San Juan coal plant

December 07, 2020

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on Dec. 2 unanimously approved agreements between Public Service Co. of New Mexico and renewable energy developers for solar power paired with battery storage projects, as well as amendments to existing solar-plus-storage agreements.

During a virtual meeting, the five commissioners approved, without changes, a recommended decision of two hearing examiners to grant the utility’s requests for approval of the 200-MW San Juan Solar 1 Project purchased power agreement, or PPA, and the related 100-MW San Juan Solar 1 Storage Project energy storage agreement, or ESA. The San Juan solar and storage projects are components of the San Juan Solar Project (Four Corners Solar) that Photosol US is developing in San Juan County, N.M., near the retiring coal-fired San Juan Generating Station, the recommended decision said.

The commissioners also approved the utility’s 100-MW Rockmont Solar Project PPA and related 30-MW Rockmont Storage Project ESA. The Rockmont projects will be sited on private land in San Juan County, about 3.5 miles southeast of the San Juan coal plant near Farmington, N.M., according to the recommended decision, which also refers to the projects as the 8me LLC projects, named after developer subsidiaries of X-ELIO Energy SL. Additionally, the utility secured approval to amend its existing Arroyo Solar Plus Storage Project PPA to update pricing and terms as well as its related existing ESA to update contract terms and increase the total battery storage capacity from 40 MW to a total of 150 MW, according to the recommended decision.

During the meeting, Hearing Examiner Anthony Medeiros told the commissioners the recommended decision is “a spinoff or continuation” of a final decision the commissioners issued on July 29 when they approved resources to replace the San Juan coal-fired plant.

In that earlier decision, the commission approved solar generation and battery storage agreements to replace nearly 500 MW of generating capacity the utility will lose when units 1 and 4 of the San Juan coal plant close in 2022. In that decision, the commissioners approved the PPA for the output of the 300-MW Arroyo Solar Plus Storage Project that Clenera LLC is developing. Also approved in that earlier decision was a 50-MW PPA for output of the Jicarilla I Solar Plus Storage Project and an ESA for an associated 20-MW storage facility. The Jicarilla project is being developed by Hecate Energy.

Altogether, the two sets of approvals, which are aimed at allowing the utility to replace output from the San Juan station that soon will be retired in favor of zero-carbon resources, will add approximately 650 MW of solar and 300 MW of battery storage to the PNM Resources Inc. subsidiary utility’s energy resources portfolio.

[Jeff Stanfield]

More ($): New Mexico approves more solar-plus-storage agreements for PNM utility

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