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Public Regulation Commission Delays Decision On PNM Plan

Brainwise via Flickr
The San Juan Generating Station provides power for millions of people across the southwest.

UPDATE 12:00p: New Mexico Regulators Delay Decision On Power Plant - Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

New Mexico regulators are giving Public Service Co. of New Mexico more time to ink agreements with a mining company, delaying a decision on whether to approve a plan to close part of the San Juan Generating Station.

The Public Regulation Commission voted 4-1 during its meeting Wednesday.

Commissioner Valerie Espinoza voted against extending the deadline for PNM, suggesting the utility was trying to submit new evidence in hopes of getting a different outcome.

Two units of the coal-fired power plant in northwest New Mexico would be closed under a settlement aimed at curbing haze-causing pollution in the Four Corners region.

The utility, business groups and environmentalists disagree about the best way to fill the void left by the partial closure, and concerns have been raised about the lack of a contract to supply coal to the plant.

Will New Mexico’s largest electric utility continue to rely on burning coal for years to come? The Public Regulation Commission will decide Wednesday whether to approve PNM’s power replacement plan.

Public Service Company of New Mexico could lock in coal energy, or they could be forced back to the drawing board depending on how the commission votes.

PNM plans to shut down two units at the San Juan Generating Station. The company says the most cost-effective and reliable way to replace that energy is to bring on additional coal power, nuclear, natural gas and a small amount of solar.

Opponents, many of them PNM customers, want the company to completely scrap coal and nuclear, swapping them with wind and solar, which they argue would be cheaper in the long run and more environmentally sound.

In April a hearing examiner recommended that the PRC deny PNM’s plan.

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