PNM, New Mexico’s largest electric utility, has signed a contract with First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) to construct 22 megawatts (MW) of utility scale photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants in New Mexico.
Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
First Solar, based in Tempe, Arizona, will construct the facilities using its PV panels at five separate sites within PNM’s service territory. The sites will be chosen based on cost, availability and suitability of land; the quality of a site’s solar potential; environmental and permitting considerations; and level of local support.
“PNM’s decision to use First Solar’s panels demonstrates the value PV technology can bring to electric utilities seeking to adopt renewable energy generation,” said Bruce Sohn, First Solar president. “We are pleased to be working with PNM in New Mexico, a state that has excellent solar resources and is well positioned to take advantage of clean, affordable energy.”
If approved by state regulators, the 22 MW AC of new solar capacity would be the first contracted under the terms of an agreement PNM reached with state environmental, renewable energy and governmental organizations two weeks ago. The specifics of that plan, to be filed with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) on Jan. 25, call for a total of 45 MW of utility scale solar PV to be added to PNM’s system in the 2010-2011 timeframe.
Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM president and CEO, said that sites chosen to host the solar PV facilities will be announced as they are determined. Construction on the first site is expected to start by 2011, or as soon as the PRC approves PNM’s renewable plan. First Solar expects construction at all five sites to be completed by late 2011. The build-outs will create approximately 100 solar jobs. Once completed, PNM will own the sites as part of its generation portfolio to serve New Mexico customers.
PNM is a subsidiary of PNM Resources (NYSE: PNM), an energy holding company based in Albuquerque, N.M. PNM provides electric utility service to about 500,000 retail customers in New Mexico.
Last week, First Solar Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) completed the acquisition of a portion of Edison Mission Group's (EMG) solar project development pipeline. The projects in that pipeline are located in California and the Southwest.