By Chuck Noble
Coalition for Clean, Affordable Energy
Some good news for 2018: The Coalition for Clean, Affordable Energy and other intervenors in December reached agreement with Southwestern Public Service supporting approval of a massive wind project that will bring at least $57 million in spending to New Mexico contractors, vendors and workers.
All parties reached agreement in the SPS case requesting approval of the the Sagamore wind farm in eastern New Mexico and Hale wind farm in west Texas, totalling 1,200 megawatts.
This settlement supports Public Regulation Commission approval of the wind project, and provides procedures to assure that ratepayers will not be economically harmed if SPS’s projections for ratepayer benefits do not turn out to be correct.
In addition, SPS, the state Attorney General’s Office, Western Resource Advocates and CCAE are entering a separate agreement by which SPS agrees to use its best efforts to identify and employ New Mexico contractors, vendors and workmen for the Sagamore project.
This separate agreement provides for a monitor to develop a program and method to advertise for, identify and hire New Mexico contractors, vendors and businesses and to assure compliance by SPS. SPS is not required to hire New Mexico businesses if they are more expensive. SPS will be allowed to seek recovery for the cost of the monitor, though non-signing parties can oppose recovery. In addition, SPS will provide a $25,000 sponsorship grant to Mesalands Junior College in Tucumcari to support its wind program. This separate agreement doesn’t need to be approved by the Commission.
SPS already provides about 21% of its electricity from renewables. With this addition, SPS will produce 48% of its energy in 2021 from renewable resources.