Green Tech Firm to Lease Schott Solar Plant

McCune Works, Inc., an innovative green technology firm, has announced that within six months it will lease Schott Solar’s 200,000-square-foot Mesa del Sol manufacturing plant in Albuquerque for photovoltaic panel production. Because of a competitive domestic and global market, Schott closed the plant, which employed 250 people, in June. Beginning in early 2013, McCune Solar Works LLC will make solar modules under the new logo “Hott Solar PV.” McCune Works also intends to produce other environmentally conscious products at the plant and expects to employ about 130 people, many of them former Schott employees.


Founded in 2005, McCune is a federal contractor that produces green materials, products and building components and specializes in solar-powered, disaster-relief shelter and housing. The company sells in domestic and international markets, as well as to developing countries, and offers consulting, research and development services. In addition, McCune is currently developing an affordable electric vehicle.


We look forward to providing affordable and non-polluting renewable energy throughout New Mexico,” said CEO Chuck McCune. “Furthermore, we intend to provide 100 megawatts of installations in 2013 through our Power New Mexico Program.”


First Solar to Build NM Projects

First Solar, Inc. has signed agreements to construct four solar power plants totaling 20 megawatts of generating capacity for PNM Resources, Inc. First Solar will provide engineering, procurement and construction services, using its advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules. PNM has the option to expand the agreement to 22 MW. The solar plants will generate enough energy to power about 7,000 homes and displace about 31,000 metric tons of CO2 annually. The plants could be in service by the end of 2013 if approved by the NM Public Regulation Commission (PRC) in November.


Because of a worldwide glut of solar panels, the new facility will cost about 40 percent less than a similar facility PNM built in 2011, which cost $90 million. The PRC approved a rate rider in August that will cost the average customer about $16 per year to pay for that project. PNM is likely to request another rate rider in 2013 to cover the cost of more renewable energy facilities. PNM also has about 25 megawatts of solar capacity through customer-owned PV installations, plus 200 MW in wind generation on the grid.


PNM Seeks to Reduce Renewable Energy Credits

Under a proposal submitted to the state Public Regulation Commission, NM’s major utility, Public Service Company of New Mexico, would reduce its Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Program, which provides credits to customers who install solar photovoltaic systems to power their homes. The REC program has also helped PNM address the renewable energy portfolio standard set by the state, although the utility has failed to meet the standard for the last two years and has asked for a waiver from the regulators.


Credits were already slashed by more than half in the last year after PNM sought to eliminate the program. Under PNM’s current proposal, credit would be further reduced along with the contract period. The utility would pay four cents a kilowatt-hour for systems of 10-kilowatt capacity or less, and cap contracts at eight years. Systems between 10 kW and 100 kW would decline by half a cent every six months for four years. Systems that generate over 100 kW would make two cents per kilowatt-hour.


For the average home, solar photovoltaic systems currently cost $12,000-$16,000. RECs, as well as state and federal tax credits, have helped offset this significantly. Besides saving money on electric bills, however, self-reliance and reducing their carbon footprint by not relying on fossil fuels are other reasons people install PV systems.


PNM has justified its position by citing the declining price of PV systems and the costs the company charges other customers to offset the program. PNM also says it would be more cost-effective to build and own its own large solar power plant and expand its three current PV facilities, than to rely on hundreds of thousands of customer-owned rooftop systems.


PNM’s net metering program, which provides about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour for the electricity a building produces, will not be changed by the proposal before the PRC.



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