Xcel Energy has announced its plans to build three new solar generating facilities near existing power plants in its Texas-New Mexico service area and extend a current power purchase contract for dependable power generation. The company is also considering the implementation of battery storage projects to store excess energy for future use.
The proposed solar facilities will be located at Cunningham Generating Station near Hobbs, New Mexico, and Plant X Generating Station near Earth, Texas. These sites, which currently house natural gas-fueled generating units that have served customers for decades, offer the advantage of utilizing existing grid connections and supporting local communities and workforce.
In addition to the solar facilities, Xcel Energy is exploring the installation of battery resources to store energy generated by other power plants. Four-hour duration battery storage proposals will be evaluated and potentially presented for approval alongside the solar projects and contract extension.
The combined nameplate capacity of the two solar plants near Hobbs will be 268 MW, while the Plant X facility near Earth will have a capacity of 150 MW, providing clean energy to approximately 140,000 Xcel Energy customer homes on average. The intermittent nature of solar generation necessitates a total accredited capacity of around 280 MW for these facilities.
Detailed information regarding the solar technologies and construction process will be released in the coming months as proposals are submitted for regulatory review in both New Mexico and Texas. Final decisions are expected in 2024, with the new solar plants projected to be operational by 2026 and 2027.
These projects were selected through a competitive solicitation process, evaluating both internal and external proposals. Xcel Energy sought reliable and cost-effective generating resources to replace retiring power plants, ensuring continued dependable service for its customers in Texas and New Mexico.
The selection process did not include proposals for replacing capacity from the planned retirement of coal generators at Tolk Generating Station in 2028. Xcel Energy plans to address this matter in its Integrated Resource Planning process and will issue a new request for proposals in mid-2024 for replacement resources.
With nearly 40% of the region’s electricity already sourced from renewables, predominantly wind energy, Xcel Energy has saved customers approximately $700 million in generating costs since 2019. The addition of solar generating capacity is expected to generate further savings while advancing the company's goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2030.