New Mexico regulators approve nuclear power replacement plan

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A proposal was filed with the Public Regulatory Commission last April to prepare for the transition, but it took months for the regulatory committee to approve despite requests from the utility for an expedited review.

Utility officials said that due to the delay, some of the solar plant construction contracts will have to be renegotiated with independent energy developers. It also means that solar power will not be available in time to meet peak summer demands in 2023.

PNM cited the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains, noting that developers are struggling to build projects and deliver replacement power on time.

Similar delays are occurring with solar and battery projects to replace some of the lost capacity that will come from the upcoming shutdown of the San Juan coal plant in northwest New Mexico.

The PNM is expected to submit its plan this week to meet demands during the peak summer months, saying a quick decision from regulators is imperative.

The commission maintains that it followed the regulatory rules and deadlines for assessing the Palo Verde case.

Hearing examiner Cristopher Ryan said the process was time-consuming due to the complexity of replacing steady-state, 24-hour nuclear power with intermittent solar power. Some parties also questioned the adequacy of the utility’s tendering process.

(Copyright 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)


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