Application for Approval of Long-term Purchased Power Agreements with Hecate Energy, Buena Vista Energy and Canutillo Energy Center


Public Notice

On November 18, 2019, El Paso Electric Company (“EPE” or the “Company”) filed an Application requesting prior approval of three Long-Term Purchased Power Agreements (“LTPPAs”) pursuant to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s (“NMPRC” or “Commission”) Rule 17.9.551 NMAC (“Rule 551” or “Rule”).  Subject to the approval of the Commission, the Company has entered into LTPPAs for the following renewable energy and energy storage projects:  (a) Hecate Project- EPE has entered into a twenty-year LTPPA with Hecate Energy, LLC for the purchase of renewable energy provided by a new solar plant to be constructed by Hecate Energy, LLC in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.  The Hecate Project is rated at 100 megawatts (“MW”) capacity of renewable solar generation and is anticipated to be in service by May 2022.  EPE anticipates it will purchase approximately 286,638 megawatt-hours (“MWh”) of energy during the first year of the new facility’s operation at a cost of $14.99 per MWh.  EPE will also receive the associated renewable energy credits (“RECs”) bundled with the purchased energy. 

(b) Buena Vista Project- EPE has entered into a twenty-year LTPPA with Buena Vista Energy Center, LLC for the purchase of renewable energy and battery energy storage provided by a new facility to be constructed by Buena Vista Energy Center, LLC in Otero County, New Mexico.  The Otero Project is rated at 100 MW capacity of renewable solar plus 50 MW capacity of battery storage and is anticipated to be in service by May 2022.  EPE anticipates it will purchase approximately 349,692 MWh of energy during the first year of the new facility’s operation at a cost of $20.99 per MWh plus a capacity charge of $5.46 per kilowatt (“kW”).  EPE will also receive the associated RECs bundled with the purchased energy.

(c) Canutillo Project- EPE has entered into a twenty-year LTPPA with Canutillo Energy Center, LLC for energy storage provided by the Canutillo Energy Storage Center Project, a 50 MW capacity battery energy storage system to be constructed by Canutillo Energy Center, LLC in Canutillo, Texas at an initial cost of $6.94 per kW plus a variable operation and maintenance rate of $18.00 per MWh.  

EPE also seeks approval of the recovery of costs associated with the LTPPAs through EPE’s Fuel and Purchased Power Cost Adjustment Clause (“FPPCAC”), in accordance with Rule 551 and Rule 17.9.550 NMAC, Fuel and Purchased Power Cost Adjustment Clauses for Electric Utilities.  EPE expects the overall impact of the proposed Projects to be minimal and may be positive during certain periods of time and in the future, considering future increases in gas prices and incremental generation cost savings.  EPE has estimated that the annual LTPPA costs allocated to New Mexico customers in the first full year of operation of the renewable and storage facilities will be $861,866.  For a typical residential customer using 675 kWh per month, this equates to an increase in the FPPCAC component of the monthly bill of approximately $0.35 or 2.6 percent.

EPE is certified and authorized to conduct the business of providing public utility service within the State of New Mexico and is a public utility subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission under the Public Utility Act.

Any interested person may inspect EPE’s Application filed in this case at EPE’s offices, 201 N. Water, Las Cruces, New Mexico, telephone number (575) 526-5551, at EPE’s website http://www.epelectric.com/, or the Commission’s Records Management Bureau, PERA Building, 1120 Paseo de Peralta, P.O. Box 1269, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87504-1269 telephone: Telephone: 1-505-827-6968. Further information about this case can be obtained at the Commission’s website, http://www.nmprc.state.nm.us under “Case Lookup Edocket”. All inquiries or written comments concerning this matter should refer to Case No. 19-00348-UT.

Pursuant to Rule 17.9.551.10(A), the Commission may approve EPE’s Application for a LTPPA without a formal hearing if no protest is filed within sixty days of the date that notice has been given that EPE has filed its Application.  Therefore, the formal hearing scheduled for this matter may be vacated upon further order of the Commission or Hearing Examiner.  The present procedural schedule established by the Commission for this proceeding is as follows:

  1. Any person desiring to intervene in the proceeding must file a Motion to Intervene pursuant to 1.2.2.23 on or before January 10, 2020.
  2. Any protest to EPE’s Application shall be filed on or before February 4, 2020, and shall state the grounds for protest.
  3. Staff shall, and any intervener may, file direct testimony by February 7, 2020. Alternatively, if a settlement is reached, a stipulation shall be filed by February 7, 2020, as well as testimony in support and any required supporting documents pursuant to 1.2.2.20. NMAC.
  4. Opposition to any stipulation pursuant to 1.2.2.20 B(2) NMAC shall be filed by February 12, 2020.
  5. Testimony in opposition to a stipulation shall be filed by February 17, 2020.
  6. Any rebuttal testimony shall be filed by February 18, 2020.
  7. Any rebuttal testimony to stipulation opposition testimony may be filed by February 24, 2020.
  8. A public hearing in this case is set to commence at 9:00 A.M. on March 3, 2020 and will continue thereafter, if necessary, at the Commission’s offices in the P.E.R.A. Building, 1120 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, to hear and receive testimony, exhibits, arguments and any other appropriate matters relevant to this proceeding. Such hearing may be vacated if deemed not required under NMSA 1978, Section 62-9-1 (2005), in which case the Commission will take public comment and dispose of the Application at an Open Meeting.

The procedural dates and requirements provided herein are subject to further order of the Commission or Hearing Examiner.  The Commission’s Utility Division Procedures 1.2.2 NMAC apply to this case except as modified by Order of the Commission or the Hearing Examiner and they are available at http://164.64.110.134/nmac/home.

Any interested person may appear at the time and place of hearing and make written or oral comment pursuant to 1.2.2.23(F) NMAC without becoming an intervener.  Written comments, which shall reference Case No. 19-00348-UT, may be mailed to the Commission’s Records Management Bureau at the address above. Such comments will not be considered as evidence in this case.

Any person filing pleadings or testimony may file in person or by mail at the Commission’s address above and shall serve copies on all parties of record, Staff, and the Hearing Examiner at Elizabeth.Hurst@state.nm.us on the date of filing.  All documents emailed to the Hearing Examiner shall include versions in Microsoft Word or other native formats if available.

Any person whose testimony has been pre-filed shall attend the hearing and submit to examination under oath. See Rule 1.2.2.35(I) NMAC. 

Any person with a disability requiring special assistance in order to participate in this proceeding should contact the offices of the Commission at 1-505-827-4500 at least 24 hours prior to the commencement of the hearing.