Commentary: On Wednesday, the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) approved PNM’s 2020 Renewable Energy Plan, including the 140-MW La Joya Wind Farm to be built in Torrance County, N.M, by the end of the year. Approval of the wind farm will allow PNM to meet its legal requirement to provide 20 percent of its electricity through renewable energy in 2020.
Before passage of the Energy Transition Act, New Mexico’s Renewable Energy Act capped the amount that large users like Intel paid for renewable energy, slashing the funds available to develop renewable sources (and until recently allowing large customers to enjoy savings from renewables paid for by other customers). Because of this loophole, even though New Mexico law requires 15% renewables by 2015 and 20% by 2020, PNM was still meeting its legal requirement with just 13%. The cap also meant the largest industrial users paid less for renewables than residential ratepayers. The Energy Transition Act closed these loopholes, forcing PNM to bring on significantly more renewable energy and requiring large users to pay their fair share.
Notably, the large customers who previously resisted requirements that would increase purchases of renewable energy supported the La Joya Wind Farm, recognizing that renewable energy would save these large customers money on their bills.
PNM will still have to significantly clean up its energy portfolio in 2025 and 2030 and then again when it exits the Four Corners Coal Plant by 2031.
“The PRC’s approval of 140 megawatts of wind in Torrance County for PNM and its customers is an important step in New Mexico’s energy transition from polluting fossil fuels to renewable energy. The Energy Transition Act closed loopholes that were handouts to large customers and undermined renewable procurement. Now utilities must fully comply with the state’s renewables requirements, energy which is now significantly cheaper than coal,“ said Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Director Camilla Feibelman.