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New Mexico Embraces Transition to 100% Clean Energy

New legislation (called the Energy Transition Act) introduced in New Mexico’s legislature would put the state on course to nation (and planet) leading renewable energy targets and 100 percent carbon free electricity generation by 2045.
Noah Long's picture

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 9, 2019 5:29 pm GMT

Noah, 100%-renewable goals for twenty-five years in the future have been embraced for at least that long in the past. Every one has been missed, by a wide margin.

Every time they say "this time is different." Now, the goals are starting to look more like a delaying tactic.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Feb 9, 2019 9:40 pm GMT


Couldn't agree more.

No reason to have this stretch out to 2045. New Mexico can be 100% carbon free by 2030-2032.

It will be 50% carbon free by 2022.

San Juan coal plant shutting down in 2022 and Four Corners could shut down a few years later. The remaining two units at Four Corners went live in 1969/1970. So already fifty years old.

Note: Not shown in NM Fuel share data from EIA is the imported generation from the 402MW share of Nuclear that Public Service of New Mexico (PNM) gets from Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona.


Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 12, 2019 1:39 pm GMT

Some data on New Mexico's energy industry:

The EIA reports that New Mexico produces oil, gas, and coal. However production of oil and gas are much larger than coal (at 3.3x and 5.6x respectively, on a Btu basis), and fossil gas production amounts to 4% of the US total.

In the central US, power from gas recently has been cheaper than that from coal.  So it should not be difficult at all for them to remove coal from their electric grid.

The removal of coal fired generation will be especially easy given the growing windpower deployment (deeply subsidized by the US government).  For 2017, the LBNL reports that windpower was 13.5% of in-state electricity generation; solar PV contributed 3.9%.  That amount of windpower and PV is already enough to substantially increases the amount of load-following needed from the remaining power plants; given the low capital cost of fossil gas fired power plants (which lessens the cost penalty for low annual usage), they will be favored for any new construction.

But while (domestic) fossil gas and windpower can be great allies in ridding the grid of coal,  ridding the grid of the gas is a much tougher problem, especially in the desert southwest (which is not exactly awash in big hydro).  No, batteries are not close to being cheap enough to replace gas; certainly not in a gas-producing state, and certainly not as a complement to windpower, which is not nearly as battery-amenable as solar.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Feb 14, 2019 10:41 pm GMT


Thanks for the reply. 

New Mexico is an interesting market. 

  • its utilities share capacity/infrastructure with CO,TX,AZ.
  • in the past it exported a big chunk of its coal generation to other Western states - including CA. That coal is being replaced with wind exports to places like CA.
  • one of the best states for renewables potential


I agree with you that it is easy to "remove" coal fired generation in NM.  Maybe the easiest state in country. 

There are plenty of wind projects in the pipeline including this one from Xcel...also a decent amount of solar projects in the works - this will increase substantially in the coming years. Huge potential for solar in New Mexico.

I think that NG generation will peak at about 13-14 TWh in 2022.  Might be a little left by 2030 - but not much.

I expect to see plenty of projects in NM that resemble this one in Oregon. Wind/solar and storage combined.

Portland General Electric and NextEra Energy Resources announced plans for the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility today. The new facility will combine 300 megawatts of wind generation, 50 MW of solar generation, and 30 MW/120 MWh of battery storage.

Finally assuming that SunZia transmission line gets built - NM may be exporting a lot more renewables to its neighbors.

New Mexico utility regulators on Oct. 3 agreed to issue a permit for construction of Pattern Energy Group Inc.'s ambitious plan to install 2,200 MW of wind energy capacity across more than 300,000 acres in the east-central part of the state.

The state Public Regulation Commission approved the Corona Wind Projects consisting up to 950 wind turbines and about 80 miles of 345-kV transmission lines that Pattern Energy subsidiaries propose to install across three counties.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 19, 2019 2:59 am GMT

So yet another example of 40% renewable penetration only being viable if much of the power is exported out of the state?

For what it's worth, those batteries serve the purpose of giving the solar portion capacity value (i.e. so they replace not only energy from other power plants, but the power plant capacity as well).  But it only works with >=4 hours of storage, only in warm climates (summer demand peak), and only for low penetration (5% or so?); otherwise the net demand peak just shifts to cloudy days and that backup power plant is needed again.  Batteries can't fix the backup problem for windpower under any circumstances.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Feb 19, 2019 1:02 am GMT

So yet another example of 40% renewable penetration only being viable if much of the power is exported out of the state?

Not sure where you get the 40% penetration number from... but your theory will be tested shortly in NM. With current total generation at about 31 TWh a year in NM - renewables will hit about 50% of NM generation around 2022/2023. 

For what it's worth, those batteries serve the purpose of giving the solar portion capacity value (i.e. so they replace not only energy from other power plants, but the power plant capacity as well).

Yep- batteries just starting to be used as a capacity replacement. Besides the project in OR,  batteries are also being used to replace(partially) lost capacity from Valmy coal plant in NV.

The recent announcement by LADWP shows that CA will be using batteries to replace NG plant capacity.

Note: in regards to "power being exported " comment.  PNM wil be joing the Western EIM market in 2021. More sharing of electricity across the Western US...

With coal being displaced quickly out West by solar and wind - we will soon be talking about a 70% zero carbon Western grid. It has already passed 50%.


Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 20, 2019 6:30 am GMT

"The recent announcement by LADWP shows that CA will be using batteries to replace NG plant capacity."

Joe, LADWP isn't anywhere close to "replacing NG plant capacity", and never will be. Their Beacon Battery Energy Storage System, similar to the Duracell Battery Energy Storage System I use for flashlights, is capable of providing 20 MW for 30 minutes (my flashlights last at least twice as long).

How do they get away with building those other storage projects in L.A. - the ones which will be storing grid energy, and making it dirtier? Apparently all they have to do is say the word "storage", and renewables evangelists swoon.

So far their clean storage is just Beacon, the $19 million facility which can provide a full seven-tenths of one percent of LADWP consumption, for a full half-hour. They'd have to build several hundred of those to replace one gas plant, then pray for sunshine.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Feb 22, 2019 5:24 am GMT

CA NG plant capacity already down 4.5 GW over the last few years. Will be dropping by another 5GW over the next few years. This is before considering storage. 

Speaking of storage... what I consider one of the more conservative utilities in the US - APS in Arizona - just made a storage announcement.

Note: APS owns 14% of the 2,250MW Navajo plant which will be shutting down at end of this year.

The announced plan is based on where battery prices are today. Wait till the ramp of new battery factory capacity comes online for EVs over the next decade. Learning curve is gonna accelerate the drop in battery prices. Expect to see APS put bids out for a lot more battery storage before 2025.

For AZ this will mean that solar/storage will be far cheaper than coal. All remaining coal in AZ will be gone within 10 years.

One last thing. APS is a member of the CAISO EIM market and already imports some midday CA solar. 

Arizona Public Service (APS) will install 850 MW of energy storage by the mid-2020s, the utility announced Thursday, including 450 MW / 1500 MWh that will come online by 2021 and an additional 400 MW slated for 2025.

By 2021, APS will install 200 MW / 600 MWh of energy storage as retrofits to existing solar facilities, 150 MW / 300 MWh of standalone batteries and a new 100 MW solar facility paired with a 100 MW / 300 MWh battery system. Additionally, the utility will add 400 MW of storage with three- or four-hour durations that will be online by 2025.

The utility also signed a seven-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for a 463 MW natural gas plant owned by Calpine. The short contract will allow the utility to potentially replace power from the plant with clean resources in the mid-2020s, APS Director of Resources Planning Jeff Burke told Utility Dive.

In addition to the new RFP and AZ Sun retrofits, APS will add 150 MW of standalone batteries with four hour durations by 2021. AES will contribute a 100 MW / 400 MWh project while Invenergy will build a 50 MW / 200 MWh facility.

Those projects come in response to an April 2018 RFP that sought 400 MW to 800 MW of peaking generation capacity that could be delivered between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., when APS electricity demand is highest.


Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 24, 2019 6:09 am GMT

CA NG plant capacity...will be dropping by another 5GW over the next few years.

Joe, in reference to power plants. capacity means their maximum output. Which plants will be dropping capacity (or closing)?

"The utility also signed a seven-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for a 463 MW natural gas plant owned by Calpine."

Guess that one won't be one of them!

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Feb 24, 2019 6:44 pm GMT


Here are scheduled CA NG plant changes for 2018-2020. 

The Calpine plant is in AZ - South Point Energy Center.  I have no problem with the 7 year PPA as APS will be losing capacity(315MW) and generation from Navajo coal which closes at end of year.

Let's see what happens to their other coal plants over next few years. I am guessing that solar/storage plans along with NG from Calpine plant means that Cholla coal shutdown will be announced within next couple of years.

Four Corners -  APS' stake in Four Corners makes 970 megawatts of energy available to the APS system.

Cholla - APS operates the plant and owns Units 1 and 3, which are capable of producing 387 megawatts of electricity. Note: Unit 2 at this plant was already shut down.

Overall AZ is still way behind where they should be in terms of clean generation. They have 31 TW of coal generation per year(29% of total) and solar only represented 6.3% of their total generation in 2018.  They should be easily able flip the coal and solar numbers within the next 10 years.

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