New Mexico’s largest electric utility, has signed a contract with FirstSolar to construct 22 MW AC of utility scale photovoltaic (PV) solarpower plants in New Mexico.
First Solar, based in Tempe,Arizona, will construct the facilities using its advanced PV panels atfive separate sites within PNM’s service territory. The sites will bechosen based on cost, availability and suitability of land; the qualityof a site’s solar potential; environmental and permittingconsiderations; and level of local support.
“We are proud tohave a company with First Solar’s internationally recognized expertiseand reputation building these facilities to help us meet the growingenergy needs of our customers,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM presidentand CEO. More than 1,800 MW of First Solar’s PV panel technology hasbeen deployed in multiple projects throughout the world.
“PNM’sdecision to use First Solar’s panels demonstrates the value PVtechnology can bring to electric utilities seeking to adopt renewableenergy generation,” said Bruce Sohn, First Solar president. “We arepleased to be working with PNM in New Mexico, a state that hasexcellent solar resources and is well positioned to take advantage ofclean, affordable energy.”
If approved by state regulators, the22 MW AC of new solar capacity – which, according to PNM, can produceenough power to supply 7,000 average sized New Mexico homes – would bethe first contracted under the terms of an agreement PNM reached withstate environmental, renewable energy and governmental organizationstwo weeks ago. The specifics of that plan, to be filed with the NewMexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) on Jan. 25, call for a totalof 45 MW of utility scale solar PV to be added to PNM’s system in the2010-2011 timeframe.
Vincent-Collawn said that sites chosen tohost the solar PV facilities will be announced as they are determined.Construction on the first site is expected to start by 2011, or as soonas the PRC approves PNM’s renewable plan. First Solar expectsconstruction at all five sites to be completed by late 2011. Thebuild-outs will create approximately 100 construction jobs. Oncecompleted, PNM will own the sites as part of its generation portfolioto serve New Mexico customers.