New Mexico Utilities Seeking Large-Scale, Commercial Solar Generating Plant


New Mexico electricity providers El Paso Electric, Xcel Energy, PNM and Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association have jointly issued a request for proposals seeking the construction of a solar parabolic trough generation facility to provide solar electricity to each of the utilities by 2012.

The RFP outlines several requirements that a successful bid will have to meet, including the following:

  • The facility must be located within New Mexico;
  • The facility must use parabolic trough technology;
  • Thermal energy storage is encouraged; and
  • The facility must be able to deliver between 211,000 and 375,000 MWh per year.

‘Each of the utilities has shown tremendous leadership by coming together as partners for renewable energy,’ says Pat Vincent, PNM's president. ‘The four of us directly or indirectly provide electricity to almost every customer in the state.’

The RFP follows a feasibility study commissioned by the utilities last year. The study, performed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), found that the most feasible solar technology currently available for a large-scale New Mexico plant is parabolic trough. This technology utilizes a series of trough-shaped mirrors to focus sunlight onto an oil-filled tube, and then uses the hot oil to generate steam. The steam is used to turn a generator, producing electricity.

If a viable project emerges from the RFP process, the utility partners expect to have a contract negotiated by the end of 2008, and energy from the project could be serving New Mexico customers by the end of 2011, pending regulatory approvals.

Parties interested in submitting a proposal can learn more about the RFP process at

SOURCE: El Paso Electric, Xcel Energy, PNM, Tri-State Generation & Transmission

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