New Mexico approves DE Shaw’s Carne solar and storage project


DESRI has four projects in planning or operation in New Mexico. Alta Luna (pictured) is a 25MW asset that went online in 2016. Image: DESRI

The New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission (NMPRC) has approved the offtake contracts for the Carne solar facility, proposed by DE Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI), a US renewables developer which owns the project.

DESRI plans to bring the project online by mid-2025, and NMPRC approval has helped finalise many of the facility’s more ambitious targets. The project consists of a 130MW solar project, alongside a 65MW battery storage facility.

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David Hawkins, vice president of system operations and resource strategy at El Paso Electric (EPE), with which the offtake contracts were agreed, hailed the approval of the offtake contracts as a “significant milestone”. EPE has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with DESRI for the project, but considering that EPE plans to decarbonise its entire 2GW capacity by 2045, other similar deals will likely be required.

“The project allows us to deliver affordable, reliable and sustainable energy to our customers,” said Hawkins. “We are proud to be a part of this collaborative effort with DESRI and look forward to the positive impact it will have on the region we serve.”

However, the project has received some local opposition, with New Mexican newspaper The Deming Headlight reporting that a December 2022 hearing concerning the project’s funding was dominated by “members of the audience opposed to the financing or to the project itself”.

Regardless, the Carne project will go ahead and become DESRI’s fourth facility in New Mexico and second in Luna County, as the state looks to decarbonise its energy mix. According to the US Energy Information Administration, last year the state produced the second-most oil in the US, behind only Texas, and ranked seventh for natural gas production.

Last year New Mexico produced the ninth-most electricity from wind power among the 50 states, and in February this year, the state’s net electricity generation from non-hydroelectric renewables was greater than its net generation from natural gas and coal. With New Mexico making strides towards a more renewables-driven industry, both DESRI and EPE are eager to involve themselves in the transition.

“DESRI is thrilled with the Carne project’s NMPRC approval, along with its continued progress towards construction start and producing power for New Mexicans,” said Hy Martin, chief development officer of DESRI. “We appreciate the ongoing support from the project’s stakeholders, including Luna County and the local community.”

21 May 2024
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