February 21, 2023

More than 400 community solar projects proposed during bid process

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission announced on Monday that companies have submitted more than 400 community solar applications. 

The PRC has contracted with the independent administrator InClime for the community solar program and InClime will now evaluate the 440 applications that have been received. The applications include proposals for solar arrays in 19 counties.

“The tremendous response to the community solar program RFP is an early indicator of program success, and we are thrilled by the overwhelming enthusiasm to meet New Mexico’s initial capacity limit,” Miana Campbell, InClime’s community solar lead for New Mexico, said in a press release. “InClime is meticulously evaluating all proposals, scoring the project bids against the [request for proposals], and ensuring bidders have plans in place to offer discounts to low-income households and community-based organizations. This competitive process will result in high-quality projects being awarded capacity, and we are confident that the community solar program will flourish, creating one of the best markets for community solar subscriptions to maximize savings in the country and contributing to a cleaner, greener future for New Mexico.”

Should all 440 be approved, it would result in 1,700 megawatts of solar power.

The Community Solar Act caps the total amount of community solar during the initial years at 200 megawatts, which are divided among the three investor-owned utilities. The Public Service Company of New Mexico has a 125 megawatt cap for community solar. El Paso Electric can have 30 megawatts of community solar on its system and Southwestern Public Service Company can have up to 45 megawatts.

Community solar involves small arrays that tie into the grid and provide electricity to subscribers. It is intended in part to benefit low-income households and people who live in apartments or other settings where rooftop solar is not an option. The Community Solar Act requires that at least 30 percent of the energy generated by community solar arrays be dedicated to low-income subscribers.

According to the press release, 49 of the applications were for arrays that would tie into EPE’s grid. These 49 applications totalled 222 megawatts of capacity. SPS had 136 proposals to tie into its system, totalling 598 megawatts. Another 219 proposals would tie into PNM’s grid, for a total of 926 megawatts.

Under the Community Solar Act, each array is capped at 5 megawatts.

The county that had the most applications for community solar was Luna County, where 96 projects have been proposed. Bernalillo County had 17 proposed projects and Santa Fe County had 11 projects proposed during the application process. Forty-six applications proposed community solar projects in Doña Ana County and 27 proposed building an array in Eddy County.

InClime and the PRC anticipate announcing the final selections of community solar projects in April. More information about the selection process can be found here

This comes as the three investor-owned utilities, led by SPS, have attempted to delay the implementation of the community solar program through an appeal to the state Supreme Court. This case is still pending before the court, though SPS’s motion to stay implementation of the rule was denied. SPS alleges that there are not enough consumer protections provisions in the rule that the PRC adopted.