ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Public Service Co. of New Mexico has reaffirmed a commitment to build five new solar plants next year to boost the utility’s renewable energy to 20 percent of retail electric sales by 2020.
The Public Regulation Commission approved PNM’s 2019 renewable energy plan last week. The plan, submitted annually to the PRC, lays out efforts to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires that public utilities derive 20 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewable sources by 2020.
PNM now gets more than 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
The new plan essentially reaffirms projects PNM outlined in its current, 2018 plan, which included construction of 50 more megawatts of PNM-owned solar generation in 2019. The current plan also calls for extending existing contracts with third-party power producers to buy more wind and geothermal electricity from plants that are now being upgraded to increase output.
Under the new 2019 plan, the utility’s renewable energy rate rider, which residential and commercial customers pay for as a line item on their monthly bills, will increase slightly. Residential customers who consume an average of 600 kilowatt hours of electricity will pay about 55 cents more per month, raising the monthly charge from about $3.77 now to about $4.32 starting in January, said Patrick O’Connell, PNM’s director of planning and resources.
That will raise PNM’s rate rider revenue from about $42.8 million this year to $49.6 million in 2019. That helps cover increased construction costs from the new solar plants, plus purchase of renewable energy certificates to reach the 20 percent RPS target if there’s a shortfall in renewable generation.
“The renewable energy plan gets us to 20 percent by 2020,” O’Connell said. “It’s been approved by the PRC and we’re moving forward on it.”