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New Mexico regulator approves PNM’s 12MW/48MWh of BESS for overloaded network lines


Utility PNM has been given the green light for two battery energy storage system (BESS) projects in New Mexico which will support overloaded feeders at two locations.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) approved the application from a subsidiary of NYSE-listed utility PNM Resources to build, own and operate two projects totalling 12MW/48MWh at two locations on 21 December, 2023.

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The two 6MW/24MWh BESS units will be built at existing solar projects owned by PNM in Bernalillo County and Valencia County to expand the capacity of overloaded feeders at the two locations.

Feeders are types of power lines which distribute electricity across different parts of the grid, often from substations to distribution networks.

In its application to the NMPRC for the projects in May 2023, PNM said the BESS units would assist in providing improved voltage support and power quality on the two overloaded feeders, increase their hosting capacity for more residential solar and assist in meeting load growth.

Furthermore, the BESS units would reduce the costs of future system upgrades needed for PNM subsidiary Public Service Company of New Mexico to ensure a safe and reliable service for customers.

PNM called the projects a “…new endeavor and a fundamental first step in PNM’s solutions for maintaining increasingly decentralised and multi-directional grid in a safe, reliable, and resilient manner”.

Its application stated that it aims to have the projects online by June 2024 and wanted their approval no later than 31 December, 2023. However in its announcement of the approval last week it said the projects would be online ‘in 2024.’

PNM chose Burns & McDonnell to provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and system integrator Powin to provide the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) BESS technology for the two projects.

The total cost for the projects will be ‘in the range of’ US$25.84 million, of which US$17.8 million is the BESS itself, with US$5 million for the EPC and just over US$3 million on taxes, loads and ‘Allowances for Funds Used During Construction’ (AFUDC).

New Mexico was one of a handful of US states to set an energy storage deployment target last year, passing a bill in March that meant its investor-owned utilities PNM, SPS and EPE will need to have 2GW/7GWh of energy storage online by 2034.

Although much smaller in scale, the projects by PNM appear to be similar in function to so-called ‘Grid Booster’ projects seen in Germany and Lithuania.’ publisher Solar Media will host the 9th annual Energy Storage Summit EU in London, 20-21 February 2024. This year it is moving to a larger venue, bringing together Europe’s leading investors, policymakers, developers, utilities, energy buyers and service providers all in one place. Visit the official site for more info.

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