New Mexico requires utilities to consider storage in resource plans

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) has told utilities in the state they must incorporate energy storage into all integrated resource plans (IRP) moving forward.

In its decision, the NMPRC said it was amending the IRP data requirements because the 2008 regulation surrounding these utility reports could not have taken energy storage into account because the technology wasn’t sophisticated enough, and what did exist was too expensive.

But with new technologies available and prices coming down, the NMPRC decided the time was right to add it to the data requirements included in the reports. As the NMPRC staff initially commented:

… it would be helpful to the policy development process for each utility to produce a cost benefit analysis of energy storage options that it has considered, if any, and why they were rejected.

The new rule was almost universally supported during the investigative process by the solar industry and the state’s utilities. At the suggestion of Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), the rule – which initially rolled the energy storage analysis into the evaluation of “demand response resources”. After PNM suggested the two were significantly different, the rule separated the two into different evaluations.

Another suggestion, proposed by an Las Cruces-based installer, said the commission should shy away from setting benchmarks for how much storage is placed on the grid. It wrote in its comments that “[e]stablishing benchmarks or targets is likely to be more complex and controversial, and could detract from the effort to ensure storage is considered in integrated resource planning.”

The installer’s point on complexity is well taken, especially in light of recent California efforts to establish an energy-storage portfolio standard. A bill introduced to stet such a mandate didn’t even make it out of committee, though supporters have vowed to reintroduce the bill next session.

While the rule goes into effect immediately, per the commission’s order, it will not affect the IRPs currently in place for the utilities in question.