PRC Proposal Could Hurt New Mexico Solar Development
Thursday, September 5, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Some of New Mexico's green energy production could be reduced by a change to the Public Regulation Commission rule that enforces the Renewable Energy Act.
The PRC sets calculations for how much renewables cost. Environmental advocates claim that proposed changes would make it easier for utilities to circumvent those figures to make solar energy appear more expensive than it really is.
Chuck Noble, an attorney for Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, says that could hurt renewable energy, especially solar.
"Solar's available during the day, during the hottest periods, and can displace capacity, which is actual fossil fuel generation,” he explains. “We think that solar resources can actually offset the need for fossil fuel plants."
The PRC will hold a public comment hearing September 10.
In December 2012, the PRC also set diversity standards calling for 30 percent of renewable energy in the state to come from wind, 20 percent from solar, 5 percent from other sources and 1.5 percent from rooftop solar. But Noble says the Commission may remove the diversity standard. He calls that’s bad news economically for New Mexico.
The idea for the changes came from the New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers and the State Attorney General's office.
Noble says he suspects part of the reason may be the comparatively low cost of wind energy.
"There may be some members of that group that feel that they will have lower costs if they can have only wind energy in the state – no solar energy,” he explains. “I think it's short-sighted and has a very narrow view of what renewables are about, and what the benefits to even residential ratepayers are from resources other than wind energy."
Noble adds doing away with the diversity standard could devastate rooftop solar development in the state, as well as economic development, hurting operations like the Lightning Dock Project, New Mexico's first geothermal installation in Hidalgo County.
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