New Mexico Approves PNM’s 22-Megawatt First Solar Projects

PNM Resources Inc., owner of New Mexico’s largest electric utility, said it received regulatory approval for plans to own and operate 22 megawatts of solar- energy facilities being installed by First Solar Inc.

The utility company was seeking permission to add 45 megawatts of solar arrays. The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission authorized the 22 megawatts of projects called for under a January contract with First Solar, said Cathy Garber, a spokeswoman for Albuquerque-based PNM.

The cost of the initiative will be capped at $101.7 million, PNM said in a statement yesterday. The utility plans to request recovery of the costs through a charge on customer’s bills that would go into effect one year after implementation of new PNM rates, which regulators are evaluating.

First Solar, the world’s biggest maker of thin-film solar power modules, will build five projects with capacities of 2 megawatts to 6 megawatts each in Alamogordo, Deming, Albuquerque, Los Lunas and Las Vegas, New Mexico, according to Garber. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2011.

Electric utilities in New Mexico are required by law to provide 10 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2011 and 20 percent by 2020.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Herndon in San Francisco at aherndon2@bloomberg.net.

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