Two coal-burning stacks at the San Juan Generating Station will be shuttered in 2017. To replace that coal-generated power, Public Service Company of New Mexico has proposed investing mostly in other coal, natural gas and nuclear energy. The utility, which provides power to half a million customers in New Mexico, says it’s the most cost effective, reliable option.
The Public Regulation Commission held weeks of public hearings earlier this year on PNM’s plan to shut down two coal-fired units at the San Juan Generating Station. But this week people in Albuquerque will have one more chance to weigh in.
PRC Chair Karen Montoya said she received requests from her Albuquerque constituents who want their opinions taken into consideration.
“Things could possibly change a lot,” Montoya said. “Depending on what they [at PNM] bring on, it will effect a change in the mix.”
New Mexico's Public Regulation Commission heard testimony for the 10th day on Friday about how the state’s largest utility wants to move forward. Two of the coal-burning units at the San Juan Generating Station are going to be shut down. Now the PRC hearings will be extended.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly addressed New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission Monday on the first day of two weeks of hearings on PNM's energy replacement plan.
Shelly told commissioners he supports PNM’s plan for replacing energy that will be lost when two coal-fired stacks at the San Juan Generating Station are shut down. He said the plan would ensure good jobs for tribal members.
On Monday, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed with Republican Gov. Susana Martinez that an alternative to dealing with haze-causing pollution at a New Mexico power plant should be worked out among stakeholders.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter sent to the governor that such an alternative would be in the environmental and economic best interests of the state.
Jackson signed a 90-day stay so the parties can evaluate alternatives for the San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico.
Whichever direction that fight goes, some are seeing the writing on the wall. For decades the Navajo and Hopi Tribes have relied on the coal industry as their economic base. As Laural Morales reports from the Fronteras Changing America Desk, tribal leaders from the Four Corners region joined with academics and political leaders in Flagstaff last week to come up with alternative economic resources.