New Mexico Commission Approves Utility Purchase of Solar Credits

December 30, 2005

The New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission (PRC) approved a solar incentive program on December 28 proposed by Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) to purchase renewable energy credits from its residential customers with on-site solar power generators for $0.013 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). PNM is located in Albuquerque and is the state's largest utility, serving 400,000 customers with electricity and 470,000 with natural gas.

PNM's new Small PV Program will take effect in March 2006 and last for 12 years. Every year PNM will contract with about 45 homeowners with photovoltaic (PV) systems on their roofs each rated at less than 10 kilowatts (kW) up to a maximum total annual capacity of 90 kW. Solar customers will connect to the utility New Mexico's net metering provision that has been in effect since 1998.

The commissioners said the purpose of the program was to provide long-term contracts that can help assure homeowners that they can recoup the costs of their investments in solar energy during the lifetime of the program. PRC Chairman Ben R. Lujan said, "We need to create an environment to stimulate small PV systems and markets, [and] this certainly will encourage those investments." The PRC also allowed PNM to count each kWh produced from solar energy as the equivalent of three kWhs produced from wind energy in calculating the utility's requirement under the state's renewable portfolio standard. For details about the PRC ruling, see its December 28 press release (PDF 20 KB).

Source: December 30 edition of Renewable Energy Access.