New Mexico city, utility propose solar energy partnership

Published 11-21-2018

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Officials in New Mexico's most populous city are partnering with the state's largest electricity provider with the aim of building a new solar generating station and boosting the amount of renewable energy used to power municipal facilities throughout Albuquerque.

Mayor Tim Keller said Wednesday the goal is to limit the city's carbon footprint and to reduce its electricity bill. Right now, about $1.2 million a month is spent to power city buildings.

"We are a huge payer of electricity bills and so we want to try to minimize that as best that we can and that also includes a commitment to dealing with issues around climate change and sustainability," Keller said.

Like other cities, Albuquerque set a goal in 2016 to generate at least 25 percent of energy consumed by municipal buildings using renewable resources. Keller, who took office in late 2017, continued the push with a $25 million project financed by bonds that included installing solar panels at a dozen city-owned buildings.

City officials have floated the idea of eventually going all green, but there's still a way to go as only 4 percent of the electricity used to power city-owned buildings currently comes from renewable resources.

In southern New Mexico, Las Cruces leaders approved a resolution earlier this year that spells out the city's intent to get all its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050.

Under Albuquerque's arrangement with Public Service Co. of New Mexico, the city would commit to purchasing half of the electricity that would be generated by the proposed 50-megawatt solar plant. The remainder would be available to other interested municipalities and tribes.

PNM will issue a request for proposals to build the plant, but the cost and location have yet to be determined.

State regulatory approval also will be needed.

Pat Vincent-Collawn, the utility's chairwoman, president and CEO, said a new solar plant would help Albuquerque meet its goals and is in line with the company's plans to be 50 percent emissions-free by the end of 2023.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico has invested millions of dollars in solar in recent years, including generating stations to feed Facebook's data center near Los Lunas. It also has scaled back operations at its coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico as part of a federal mandate to reduce haze-causing pollution.

The utility is preparing for the

Under Albuquerque's arrangement with Public Service Co. of New Mexico, the city would commit to purchasing half of the electricity that would be generated by the proposed 50-megawatt solar plant. The remainder would be available to other interested municipalities and tribes.

PNM will issue a request for proposals to build the plant, but the cost and location have yet to be determined.

State regulatory approval also will be needed.

Pat Vincent-Collawn, the utility's chairwoman, president and CEO, said a new solar plant would help Albuquerque meet its goals and is in line with the company's plans to be 50 percent emissions-free by the end of 2023.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico has invested millions of dollars in solar in recent years, including generating stations to feed Facebook's data center near Los Lunas. It also has scaled back operations at its coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico as part of a federal mandate to reduce haze-causing pollution.

The utility is preparing for the closure of that power plant in a few years as part of a national shift toward natural gas and renewable sources that has been spurred by government regulations and economic forces.

The proposed solar plant that would provide electricity to Albuquerque would be made up of 200,000 panels and would be capable of powering 16,000 homes a year, according to the utility.

Company officials said the timeline and costs associated with the project will depend on the proposals it receives.

State regulatory approval also will be needed.

Pat Vincent-Collawn, the utility's chairwoman, president and CEO, said a new solar plant would help Albuquerque meet its goals and is in line with the company's plans to be 50 percent emissions-free by the end of 2023.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico has invested millions of dollars in solar in recent years, including generating stations to feed Facebook's data center near Los Lunas. It also has scaled back operations at its coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico as part of a federal mandate to reduce haze-causing pollution.

The utility is preparing for the closure of that power plant in a few years as part of a national shift toward natural gas and renewable sources that has been spurred by government regulations and economic forces.

The proposed solar plant that would provide electricity to Albuquerque would be made up of 200,000 panels and would be capable of powering 16,000 homes a year, according to the utility.

Company officials said the timeline and costs associated with the project will depend on the proposals it receives.

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