PNM calls for 50 MW solar project to support C&I program in New Mexico

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New Mexico utility PNM has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the development of a 50 MW solar power project to support the company’s just-announced PNM Solar Direct program.

PNM Solar Direct is a subscription-based service for local governments, tribes and large electric customers to purchase of portions of the power generated by the new plant. In a show of early support, the city of Albuquerque has already signed up to subscribe to the half of the program’s capacity, 25 MW, as a way to meet the city’s 100% sustainable energy goal.

“Several of our large customers, like the city of Albuquerque, have established goals for using clean energy or reducing their carbon footprint. PNM has been working closely with these customers to create a program to help them achieve those goals in a cost-effective way,” said chairman, president and CEO of PNM Resources Pat Vincent-Collawn in a release announcing the program.

“The PNM Solar Direct program, like the Facebook data center agreements, shows that PNM is committed to working with our customers to find solutions to their energy needs and making New Mexico a sustainable energy leader.”

While this is the project and program’s official announcement, the onset of these ventures were previously hinted at by Albuquerque mayor Tim Keller. Keller first announced the city’s goal of 100% sustainable energy on November 21, and at that announcement, Keller alluded to a large-scale solar project that the city was working on with PNM that would be able to provide the city with 58% of its energy needs.

Not only is the city of Albuquerque using this project to increase its renewable portfolio, PNM is as well. The company states that the project will “support the PNM goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the planned exit from coal and the addition of more clean, sustainable energy resources to its portfolio,” according to the release.

Logistically, there is national precedent for this kind of program. In Minnesota, the country’s most successful community solar program has seen 87% of its capacity dedicated to commercial and industrial customers, like the ones that PNM Solar Direct would serve.

“The program opens the door for other New Mexico governments to follow suit and brings more solar energy production to our state,” said Keller. “This collaboration with PNM shows the changes we can make in our community when we work together to come up with new solutions.”

PNM’s RFP lasts through through Feb. 1, 2019. The program and anticipated solar project are still subject to approval by the New Mexico Regulation Commission.