New Mexico’s largest electric utility is asking state regulators to approve a fee that would be added to customers’ bills to recover costs associated with developing renewable energy projects.
Public Service Company of New Mexico announced its filing with the Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday, the same day it dedicated the last of five solar plants that are aimed at helping the utility met the state’s renewable energy mandates.
If approved, the annually adjusted charge would add about $1.38 a month for the average residential customer beginning in August. The fee would reflect the cost of PRC-approved projects that have been developed since January 2011 but have not been reflected on customers’ bills.
The projects include the five solar plants, the utility’s customer-owned solar program, the purchase of wind energy from a Cibola County wind farm, and a solar-battery storage project south of Albuquerque.
Rather than waiting to add the charge to its general rates, PNM said in a statement it’s proposing to recover renewable energy costs through the new charge, as it does with energy efficiency program costs.
By imposing the fee now, PNM contends the overall costs for customers would be less since they will appear on bills closer to the time the costs were actually incurred, meaning finance charges can be avoided.
PNM also said a separate line item on bills would make it clear to customers how much they’re paying for renewable energy.
New Mexico’s renewable energy standard requires that 10 percent of energy provided to customers come from renewable resources. That standard will increase to 15 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020.
In all, PNM has added 22 megawatts of solar-generated power to its portfolio in the past year with the five solar plants. The utility’s renewable energy portfolio also includes 200 megawatts of capacity from the New Mexico Wind Energy Center in eastern New Mexico.
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