This San Juan Generating Station coal-fired power plant rises out of the Four Corners region in the northwestern New Mexico desert. The coal plant has operated since the 1970’s. The plant emits 13,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, making it one of the largest sources of air pollution in the region.
In excellent news, Commissioners of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on December 16 2015, voted 4 to 1 in a historic decision to shut down two of the plant’s four coal-fired generating units by December 2017. The decision includes a provision that requires PNM to offset the environmental impacts of the remaining 200 megawatts of San Juan coal capacity with an equal amount of renewable energy credit procurements. Importantly, the agreement also sets the stage for further unit closures in 2022. Absent this decision, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) would have been on a path toward operating San Juan Generating Station until 2053.
PNM is now better positioned for compliance with EPA’s Clean Power Plan to address climate change by reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants and acquiring renewable energy.
What happens next? In 2018, the PUC will undertake a comprehensive review of whether San Juan should continue serving PNM’s customers after 2022. At the same time, the costs and benefits of replacing San Juan generation with renewable energy in New Mexico will be analyzed.
Western Resource Advocates played an essential role in advancing the effort to retire half of the plant’s units. PNM, the New Mexico Attorney General, Commission Staff, and the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy all worked incredibly hard to reconcile their differences and come up with a settlement that will reduce pollution, haze, and greenhouse gas emissions.
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