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PNM Big Renewable Energy Push - Energy Matters

Apr 13th 2015 at 12:28 AM

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New Mexico's largest electricity provider has just significantly boosted its renewables portfolio - with more to come.PNM serves more than 500,000 residential and business customers in New Mexico.  As of the beginning of January, the company is purchasing the entire output of the 102-megawatt Red Mesa Wind Energy Center, located about 80 kilometres west of Albuquerque.Constructed and operated by NextEra Energy Resources, the wind farm consists of 64 1.6-megawatt GE turbines that generate enough electricity to supply the needs of 29,000 average households.It's not PNM's first effort in sourcing renewable energy - the company has been somewhat of a pioneer on that front.

 

Since 2003, PNM has purchased all the output of the New Mexico Wind Energy Center; a wind farm of 136 turbines with a collective capacity of 200 megawatts.PNM's pursuit of renewables won't end with the Red Mesa project."By 2016, each year PNM’s wind, solar and geothermal resources will produce the energy used by 150,000 average residential customers, save approximately 382 million gallons of water at power plants and reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 201,000 cars off the road," says the company.PNM began incorporating utility-scale solar in 2011, when it added 22 megawatts of capacity.For 2015, PNM is planning to have four new solar farms with a total capacity of 40 megawatts constructed.

 

By the end of this year, it expects to have 67 MW of solar power capacity in operation. The company has also set a goal of  107 MW of solar in operation across 15 sites by the end of 2016.And it doesn't end there. PNM says new capacity will also be required in 2017 when two of the four coal-fired units at San Juan Generating Station are expected to be close - and solar will help bridge the gap."PNM analysis consistently showed that out of thousands of potential choices the most cost-effective and least carbon-intensive replacement mix includes natural gas, nuclear and 40 megawatts of new solar.

 

This is the first time PNM’s analysis has identified solar as a cost-effective resource without respect to renewable portfolio requirements."According to DSIRE, a database of renewables incentives run by North Caroline State University, investor-owned utilities in New Mexico are required to generate 20% of total retail sales from renewable energy resources by 2020. From this year through to 2019, 15% of total retail sales must come from renewables.PNM has also been a leader in utility scale battery energy storage. It says its Prosperity Energy Storage Project is one of the largest combinations of grid connected battery storage and photovoltaics in the nation

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