Ron Darnell

 

PNM’s record of supporting solar is strong. A recent column in the Green Fire Times provided readers with information about our position on solar energy that was inaccurate. We’d like to share our position.

 

PNM supported the original renewable portfolio standard legislation in 2004 and the amendments in 2007 that increased the standard. Solar continues to grow significantly on our system in New Mexico, including:

 

  • 22 megawatts of large-scale solar plants at five locations statewide, with 21.5 megawatts being added by the end of this year;
  • The nation’s first grid-connected solar PV installation to use batteries and smart-grid technology to help maximize the potential of solar energy launched in 2011;
  • The largest customer photovoltaic program in the state, with 3,400 interconnected customers producing approximately 21 megawatts.  The current requirement for customer-owned solar is 1.5 percent;  PNM exceeds that requirement with a current projected percentage of 10.6 percent;
  • Approval by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to add 9 megawatts of customer-owned solar from 2013 through 2016;
  • A proposal filed on July 1 to add 23 more megawatts of large-scale solar by Dec. 31, 2014;
  • Changes to the PNM Sky Blue program to add 1.5 MW of solar PV in the renewable mix;
  • PNM sponsored customer workshops on how to add solar to your home;
  • Significant PNM financial support to the Central New Mexico Community College’s renewable trades program to help build New Mexico’s renewable workforce, including solar; and
  • Continued advocacy for reforms to make it easier for solar companies to connect to our transmission system, enabling renewable sales to markets outside of the PNM system.

 

In the review of the renewable rule before the NM Public Regulation Commission that prompted the opinion piece, PNM supported continuing to require utilities to include solar PV and DG in their renewable-energy portfolios. Our goal has always been clarity in the renewable-energy guidelines for utilities so that future requests for renewable-energy expansion don’t get bogged down in complex interpretation of rules and, in fairness to customers, the cost and benefits of new resource additions are clear.

 

PNM has been a significant contributor to the expansion of renewable energy in the state, and not just solar development. A 200-megawatt wind-energy center was built over a decade ago to serve our customers, and in January, 2015 we have proposed to add another 102 megawatts of wind from the Red Mesa Wind Energy Center. Today, the state’s first utility-scale geothermal facility is also being developed to serve PNM customers. We are very interested in ongoing dialogue with those who care about energy issues.

 

 

Ron Darnell is PNM’s senior vice president of public policy.