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PRC may approve PNM's power purchase agreements with solar projects in San Juan County

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission may approve Public Service Company of New Mexico’s power purchase agreements for renewable energy resources to replace electricity it currently receives from the San Juan Generating Station.

The commission meets at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 2 via Zoom and the meeting will be broadcast over YouTube. A link will be posted on the PRC website, nmprc.state.nm.us, on the day of the meeting.

In July, the PRC approved a replacement power plan that included 100% renewable resources. However, the approved plan did not include approvals of the power purchase agreements for all of the resources.

A transformer is pictured just outside the San Juan Generating Station. The transformer increases the voltage prior to transporting it away from the power plant.

San Juan Generating Station:Renewable energy plan gets approval from PRC

On Dec. 2, the PRC may approve power purchase agreements for solar arrays that will be constructed in San Juan County’s Central Consolidated School District boundaries.

This includes the San Juan Solar Project, is part of Photosol U.S.’s Four Corners Solar Center plan. It also includes a solar array called the Rockmont Solar Project, which would be developed and owned by a subsidiary of 8minute Solar Energy. The solar arrays will be built along with battery storage.

PNM’s power purchase agreement with Photosol would mean that it would buy 200 megawatts of solar energy from the planned 598-megawatt San Juan Solar array. It would also have 100 megawatts of energy storage in the planned 300-megawatt battery storage system.

Meanwhile, PNM could purchase 100 megawatts of electricity from the Rockmont Solar Project and have an energy storage agreement for 30 megawatts of battery storage.

The PRC also has the option of approving a larger power purchase agreement with Photosol and not approving the contract for the Rockmont Solar Project. This would result in cost-savings for the customers, however the hearing examiners’ recommended decision suggests approving the agreements with both solar arrays.

The San Juan Generating Station is seen, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, from Twin Peaks in Kirtland.

MORE:Photosol moving forward with 3 solar projects near San Juan County power plants

If approved, the two solar projects in San Juan County will result in hundreds of construction jobs in the upcoming years as well as a handful of permanent jobs to operate and maintain the arrays and battery storage. The projects will also provide property tax that will benefit both San Juan County and CCSD.

According to PRC documents, the two projects will lead to an estimated $3.1 million in property tax in the CCSD boundaries in the first year. A portion of that will go to CCSD. This will help the school district pay its bonds if the San Juan Generating Station does close in 2022.

The two projects will bring an estimated $558 million to $618 million investment in San Juan County, the hearing examiners’ recommended decision states.

Coal is delivered from the San Juan Mine to the San Juan Generating Station through a coal supply contract that ends on June 30, 2022.

Other agenda topics include AV Water Co.’s rate increase. The agenda states that the PRC could issue an order related to the certification of the stipulation.

MORE:New Mexico Water Service announces agreement to acquire AV Water assets

The PRC will also discuss renewable energy rate riders and line loss adjustments as well as potential legislative policy.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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