PNM plans early retirement of coal plant with massive addition of solar + storage

By [Content Director and Conference Chair, DISTRIBUTECH International]
REW_PNMTransitionCoal
Sponsored by

On July 1, Public Service of New Mexico filed a plan with regulators in the state for how it plans to get to a 100 percent emission-free power by 2040. The utility reviewed four scenarios, all of which involved the early retirement of the San Juan Coal Plant, to arrive at its recommended path forward.

Each scenario was modeled for both reliability and cost. They are outlined in the infographic below.

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated

The utility considered four possible scenarios for how it could most effectively meet the directive of the Energy Transition Act, which was announced on March 25. The act requires the state to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2045.

The system PMN recommends involves using the energy from a 280-MW gas-fired power plant, plus 350 MW of solar capacity, 130 MW of battery storage and 140 MW of wind power (which already exists). The battery storage will represent 5 percent of the total capacity of the system, which is the highest percent penetration in the nation, according to PNM.

PNM says its plan will save customers on average $7.11 per month in the first year.

While some may question the decision to build new gas-fired power when the ultimate goal is to be 100 percent renewable, Ron Darnell, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, PNM explained in a press call that the utility views the gas plant as a bridge during which time it expects battery costs to go down and battery technology risks to improve. The expected life of the gas-fired power plant is 18 yeas.

Darnell said the wind and solar prices are incredibly low, a $17 and $19 per megawatt-hour, respectively.

“Things that we thought were impossible years ago, are now possible,” he said.

The filing also includes resources to assist employees and the communities affected by the closure of the San Juan Generating Station, including more than $10M allocated for severance for affected employees and more than $1M to re-train workers.

Sponsored by

Get All the Electric Light & Power and POWERGRID International to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Electric Light & Power or POWERGRID International and the email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

Related Articles

Envisioning the future of hydropower: What do you see?

07/24/2019

On Tuesday, July 23 at the HydroVision International keynote, Vice President Marla Barnes asked the audience to close thei...

China adds 5.2 GW of photovoltaic capacity in Q1 2019

06/03/2019 In the first quarter of this year, China added 5.2 gigawatts (GW) of installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity, according to th...

Xcel Energy to end coal use in Upper Midwest by 2030

05/21/2019 This week, Xcel Energy announced plans to retire its last two coal plants in the Upper Midwest a decade earlier than sched...

Australia's climate wars set to heat up after coal champion wins

05/20/2019 Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s surprise victory in Australia’s election was a win for the coal industry and ensures the d...