NEW MEXICO GROUPS URGE PRC TO PROTECT RATEPAYERS, REJECT PNM COAL PLAN
|San Juan Power Plant
on Navajo Nation
in New Mexico
PRC Concludes Hearings on PNM’s Plan for Costly, Outdated San Juan Generating Station
Monday, February 2, 2015
By Shane Levy, Sierra Club – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance - email@example.com
Joan Brown, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light (NMIPL) firstname.lastname@example.org
Colleen Cooley, Dine' CARE email@example.com
Julie Ruth, Positive Energy Solar firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBUQUERQUE - A coalition of New Mexico community groups today called on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to reject a plan from PNM that would extend the utility’s commitment to the San Juan Generating Station coal plant, thereby threatening the health and financial security of New Mexico families across the state for years to come. The PRC recently concluded hearings on PNM’s proposal, which generated strong opposition from New Mexico faith leaders, public health groups, clean energy advocates, environmental organizations, and more.
“Enough is enough, it is time for PNM to start investing in cleaner energy sources for the sake of our kids and future generations,” said Colleen Cooley of Diné C.A.R.E. “The Diné people who reside between the San Juan Generating Station and the Four Corners Power Plant have suffered the burden of climate injustices for far too long and it needs to stop now. We are not fortunate enough to just relocate from our communities, and we all deserve clean air and clean water.”
"We are in what Christians call a Kairos time or a decisive moment of action to address environmental and economic justice in our community by choosing cleaner, renewable energy instead of a future of dirty coal." said Sister Joan Brown, osf Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light (NMIPL). "People of faith are very concerned and are taking actions to protect our sacred air, land and water from dangerous coal pollution. More and more houses of worship in New Mexico are investing in clean energy solutions by installing solar panels and doing energy efficiency upgrades. We pray that the PRC realizes their responsibility for the common good, life and future generations as they deliberate."
Over the past few weeks, support for continued burning of coal at the San Juan Generating Station has evaporated as admissions by the company have revealed serious financial risks for the future of the plant. Earlier this month, the home city of the plant, Farmington, New Mexico, abandoned its utility’s plans to acquire an increased portion of the plant due to reliability concerns and the huge costs that would be passed onto the community. Other New Mexico stakeholders have also pulled away from an agreement that would continue PNM’s use of coal at the plant, citing the overall uncertainty about San Juan’s operations.
“While PNM charges ahead with its plan to increase its ownership share of the dirty and expensive San Juan Generating Station, cities and utilities in our region are stepping back to safeguard communities from the growing risks of the plant,” said Nellis Kennedy-Howard, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “Stakeholder after stakeholder has withdrawn their support for PNM’s plan, but PNM refuses to budge. PNM’s actions affect the health and financial security of families across New Mexico by locking customers into the dirty, expensive San Juan Generating Station coal-fired power plant while fighting affordable clean energy solutions. We deserve better.”
“With insurmountable evidence that continued investment in San Juan Generating Station is a bad business decision, it appears that PNM will be subjecting ratepayers to the costs of pollution controls and environmental liabilities,” said Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico Energy Coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance. “To add insult to injury, PNM is also considering ownership of the coal source for San Juan Generating Station: the troubled San Juan Mine or a new coal mine. The story gets worse and worse.”
The future of coal at the San Juan Generating Station has grown increasingly uncertain in recent weeks as more costs and challenges continue to arise, including the uncertainty of where the plant will get its coal after 2017. Last month, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) in Arizona announced that it would not purchase the San Juan coal mine that supplies the San Juan Generating Station. In addition, PNM announced that the total bill for their plan to increase reliance on dirty coal and other expensive fuels had jumped by over $1 billion, with those costs likely being passed onto local ratepayers. This comes just weeks after PNM introduced a rate proposal that if approved would result in nearly a $10 month increase to the average residential home bill due to utility’s plans to continue burning coal at the plant for the foreseeable future.
"The tipping point is behind us. New Mexicans want affordable renewable energy – even PNM acknowledges this in their new advertising campaign. In the hearing, it was shown that renewable energy is cheaper, safer and keeps the lights on for New Mexicans. The PRC must rule for the people on this case and lead New Mexicans into the clean energy future they demand," said Regina Wheeler, CEO of Positive Energy Solar.“The League of Women Voters of New Mexico opposes the plan proposed by PNM of New Mexico for replacing the power produced by Units 2 and 3 of the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS), in part because of the over-reliance on fossil fuels and the under-reliance on renewables, and in part because of the billions of gallons of water used annually in coal and nuclear facilities,” said Judy Williams of The League of Women Voters of New Mexico.