New Mexico Utility Seeks to Offer Wind Energy

Public Service of New Mexico (PNM) has asked state regulators for permission to offer clean, renewable wind energy to its 385,000 New Mexico electric customers.

Albuquerque, New Mexico – March 31, 2003 [] The company’s proposal, outlined in a green tariff filed with the Public Regulation Commission (PRC), would allow customers to subscribe to Renewable Energy produced at New Mexico Wind Energy Center in return for a small, monthly premium. “This product will give PNM customers who are concerned about the environment, air emissions and water conservation a way to voice their support for Renewable Energy,” said Sarita Loehr, PNM vice president of customer and market services. The 204 MW New Mexico Wind Energy Center, now under construction near House, New Mexico, will not produce air emissions or use water to generate electricity. Once complete, it will be the nation’s third-largest wind generation facility, according to Don Brown of PNM. Although the wind farm will be owned and operated by FPL Energy, PNM has an exclusive contract for the center’s energy output for the next 25 years. Under the plan, residential customers and small businesses could sign up for Renewable Energy by choosing one of two packages, each based on a Renewable Energy premium of US2.5 cents per kWh. The first would allow customers to purchase Renewable Energy in 100 kWh blocks, at a cost of US$2.50 for each block. A customer could choose one, two or more blocks per month. This rate means the customer would pay a fixed rate for Renewable Energy every month, regardless of changes to monthly electric consumption. The second would allow customers the fullest level of participation, setting the Renewable Energy they purchase at 90 percent of monthly electric consumption. With this package, the amount a customer pays for Renewable Energy each month would go up or down depending on monthly consumption. The average PNM residential customer uses about 550 kWh of electricity per month. Large business customers also could participate in the program, paying the same US 2.5 cent-per-kWh rate for Renewable Energy. But they would purchase the energy as a proportion of their overall electric usage rather than in blocks. A large business could select to purchase Renewable Energy equal to one percent, two percent, three percent, five percent, 10 percent, 50 percent or 90 percent of its overall electric monthly usage. The renewable premium would show up as a separate line item on the monthly bills of those customers who choose to participate. The premium charge for Renewable Energy is in addition to base charges for electricity. The monthly premium is designed to help cover the added cost of bringing Renewable Energy into PNM’s electric system. “While the energy we receive from New Mexico Wind Energy Center is competitively priced, the reality is that wind energy is still more expensive than energy from our other power resources,” Loehr said. PNM’s proposed Renewable Energy premium is similar in price to those offered by some of the most progressive utilities in the country.” The PRC will need to review and approve PNM’s Renewable Energy tariff before customers can sign up to participate. PNM hopes to begin taking customer signups later this year or early in 2004.
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