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Farmington Spotlight

Posted on: February 1, 2019

UPDATE ON SAN JUAN GENERATING STATION AND THE NEW MEXICO PUBLIC REGULATION COMMISSION HEARING

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Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) has proposed to close San Juan Generating Station (SJGS), and effectively San Juan Mine in 2022. Your local leaders have proactively been advocating to preserve the jobs and extend the life of the plant and mine. This includes vigorous intervention in the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) regulatory process, Legislature, and through Farmington’s efforts to market the plant to a new private owner. These measures to market the plant are ongoing, aggressive, and while uncertain, have a reasonable chance of success.

While we did not avoid the commencement of the abandonment case by the PRC, there was a beneficial outcome. The PRC validated many of our concerns regarding closure of SJGS and is providing all stakeholders with the ability to participate in a process that we hope will ultimately implement a balanced solution that mitigates impact to ratepayers and the region while also adapting to changing energy market conditions. The PRC order confirms our impact from the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) case, essentially importing our central arguments on the need for community hearings, due process, economic impact modeling, stranded costs, and reliability. PNM has stated publicly that closure of the SJGS will increase customer rates. Closure of the plant and mine will also have a devastating economic impact on the state and region.

SJGS was recently retrofitted with millions of dollars of pollution control equipment— and along with the closure of 2 of 4 units, brought the plant into compliance with the stringent emissions standards proposed by President Obama in 2014. In fact, SJGS has lowered its overall emissions by over 60% and is one of the cleanest and most technologically sound coal plants in the Country and has several decades of functional life remaining.

The issue for the region doesn’t center simply on protecting coal, it centers on finding a balanced solution that mitigates the impacts a potential closure of the plant and mine will have on our families, our children, our schools, and our economy. The region embraces a responsible transition and would welcome large scale renewable power to be constructed locally and exported utilizing existing transmission infrastructure. The City of Farmington and the broader San Juan County are open for business and are committed to growing our economy and contributing to the quality of life of our citizens.

Representing you at the PRC hearings were Mayor Nate Duckett, City Councilors Jeanine Bingham-Kelly and Janis Jakino, and City Manager Rob Mayes. With them were Commissioner GloJean Todacheene and Doug Echols from San Juan County, Germaine Chappelle, as outside counsel, and Greg Allen of San Juan Safe Communities Initiative. A special thank you to State Representative Rod Montoya and Senator Bill Sharer, who also attended.

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