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El Paso Electric eyes new $143M generator, more solar power

January 22, 2019

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — El Paso Electric plans to add a $143 million power generator and introduce more solar power by 2023, the utility recently announced.

The company said the planned power generator will be located at its Northeast El Paso power plant and comes after studies that showed the electric utility will need more power generation by 2023 to replace three aging gas-powered generating units, the El Paso Times reports . The company also said it will add its first battery storage for solar power within the next four years.

El Paso Electric is in negotiations with an unspecified number of companies for the power expansion, which is the result of the company’s June 2017 request for power-generation proposals.

The utility provides power to more than 420,000 customers in western Texas and southern New Mexico.

The proposed 226 megawatt, natural-gas generating unit at the Newman Power Station, the company’s largest power plant, is scheduled to be operating by 2023, according to current plans.

The utility plans to purchase an additional 200 megawatts of solar power by 2022 from plants that other companies will build and operate. It will need 50 megawatts of that power in 2022 and the remainder by 2023, officials said.

The company also plans to purchase 100 megawatts of battery storage, which would be installed in several places, said Mary Kipp, El Paso Electric’s chief executive officer.

The company does not yet have an overall cost estimate for the power expansion beyond the estimated $143 million cost for the Newman generating unit, Kipp said.

The Newman generating unit will have to be paid through customers’ rates, Kipp said. The company has said it will not seek approval from regulators to increase rates to pay for the new unit until after it starts operating.

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