Coal, Emissions, New Projects, Policy & Regulations, Solar

El Paso Electric to be coal-free by 2016, increase solar PV use

Texas-based El Paso Electric Co. (EPE, NYSE: EE) said it will be coal-free by 2016 and has doubled its utility-scale solar portfolio in time to meet proposed carbon emission standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPE started commercial operations of the 50-MW Macho Springs solar power plant in New Mexico. Macho Springs and a 10-MW solar project – expected to be completed by the end of 2014 in Texas – will expand the total solar generation to 6 percent of EPE’s dedicated generation resources.

EPE signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Macho Springs Solar LLC, which is owned by Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy. First Solar built and will operate the plant. EPE also signed a 30-year PPA with Newman Solar LLC, owned by juwi solar Inc., which will build the 10-MW solar project in Texas

The utility opted not to own its 7 percent interest in the Four Corners coal-fired power plant after the plant is scheduled to retire in July 2016. EPE will pursue a sale of its 7 percent interest in the plant.