New Mexico regulators’ rejection of a hike on a fee reserved for solar customers in the Eastern part of the state was greeted with applause in renewable energy circles this week. But that wasn’t the only significant decision that came out of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s (PRC) Meeting this Wednesday.
According to the Associated Press, the state’s PRC also approved a process for expedited approval of power contracts for Facebook to buy electricity from a pair of 50 MW-AC solar plants to be built over the next two years to feed its new data center in Los Lunas. There will now only be 20 days for any objections from intervening parties, meaning that the commission could rule on the projects by September 26.
If approved, the Britton and Encino solar plants will be built in Torrance and Sandoval Counties, and will supply electricity to Facebook at the enviable rate of $30.25 per megawatt-hour.
Utility Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) will also get a cut for delivering the power, and accompanying documentation shed light on the details of the company’s “Green Energy Rider”, which is the sort of green tariff program that many utilities have adopted to attract and keep large energy users while still remaining in the game.
The Green Energy Rider includes a transmission demand charge of $3.85 per billable on-peak kilowatt, as well as a customer charge that comes out to about $3,700 each month. In addition to that, whenever the solar facilities are not producing and PNM has to supply power, it will do so at wholesale rates plus a few other charges of the type that utilities often bill their customers for.
Full details of the projects follows:
- 67.6 MW-DC
- 20-year PPA
- Just west of Moriarty in Torrance County, NM
- Commercial operation date of December 31, 2019, guaranteed to start no more than 160 days later
- 188,000, 365-watt c-Si modules, single-axis tracking
- 66.7 MW-DC
- 25-year PPA
- Northwest of Rio Rancho in Sandoval County, NM
- Commercial operation date of June 1, 2020, guaranteed to start no more than 160 days after
- 183,00, 365-watt c-Si PV modules, single-axis tracking
These would not be the first plants to feed the massive Los Lunas data center, which is expected to come online by the end of this year. Affordable Solar is also building three 10 MW-AC solar projects. A regulatory filing notes that a “cap” of 110 MW-AC of contracts for the site is being lifted.