PNM Admits San Juan Makes No Sense. Agrees to Close It!!!

Our Governor is on a veto binge, even vetoing a bill that passed both houses with only one dissenting vote. Even Rodella supported it. Between Martinez & Trump, good news is ever so welcome and New Energy Economy has delivered. This report from NEE on PNM’s finally doing something right and a call for action on Saturday!

With the Governor Continuing Her Veto Rage

We Need A Brand New Progressive Roundhouse

It’s Our House Not Hers is on.  Saturday, March 18, 10-2pm.  IATSE, Retake Our Democracy, Working Families, & Indivisible Santa Fe are sponsoring It’s Our House Not Hers.  Click here for details and to RSVP.  Apparently Donald Trump is not the only politician with a tendency toward the bizarre. Giving absolutely no indication as to why, Gov. Martinez vetoed six bills on Wednesday, including one that had passed by a 62-0 in the House and 37-1 in the Senate. SB 24 would have enabled cities to expand internet bandwidth, a measure that could have significantly boosted job creation. Given that NM now has the highest unemployment rate in the US, SB 24 seemed certain to be signed.

Speculation was rampant that Martinez had vetoed the bills because the day before a GOP-led revolt had resulted in her first veto override in her entire reign as Governor, on a bill that allowed teachers to use sick leave without being penalized. It is hard to say why she really vetoed the six bills yesterday, as she gave not hint as to her thinking.  Click here for the story from the New Mexican. Roxanne and I are in Oakland for a mini vacation, but we bring you this special Friday post all because of the good news below. We will miss you on Saturday, but torn out and raise hell. This Governor needs to hear from you.

A Win!  The 1800 MW San Juan Generating Station to Close!

NEEI am not used to hearing about PNM doing the right thing. Just last year, PNM sought market bids for 50 MW of power and with received bids of 4.2¢/kWh (Kilowatt hour) [3] for solar, 3.3¢/kWh for wind; coal at 9.5¢/MW, 7 ¢/kWh, PNM looked at the numbers and didn’t purchase either solar or wind. Uncanny how unyielding PNM can be in refusing to adopt renewable energy alternatives. Might it be something to do with profit?  But today New Energy Economy announced that PNM had finally relented and accepted the irrefutable truth: fossil fuel is a dying industry.
The report below is entirely from New Energy Economy (NEE), a true climate change hero and ever so worthy of your financial support. They have been added to our Tithe page, joining Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Chainbreaker, and Santa Fe Dreamers. Earth Care will join the list next week. But in celebration of this tremendous moment, send a donation, NEE’s way, today. Click here to get to our Tithe Today page.
PNM has announced that it will finally retire the coal behemoth in the Four Corners area, the 1800 MW San Juan Generating Station (SJGS). This is a victory for the people of New Mexico who have been expressing outrage at PNM’s continuous re-investment in coal that has had serious deleterious impacts on public health, our economy and the environment.

“The economic handwriting has been on the wall for a long time for PNM’s coal plant. What’s key now is what so many New Mexicans have been telling the company and PRC all along: that we need to not only move off coal but also make the switch to 100 percent renewable energy because that’s what’s best for our local economy, our water, our climate and affordable electricity. It’s critical that some of this renewable energy transition take place to benefit San Juan County where the plant is closing. It’s also really important that PNM take responsibility for cleaning up and remediating the toxic coal plant and mine, assisting workers, and doing its fair share on all the financial issues around closure. Today’s news is a milestone for sure, and now there’s more to do ahead to get where we need to go,” stated Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy.

Renewable Energy is Feasible, Available Today & Cheaper
There are cleaner alternatives already being adopted by other energy companies in New Mexico. Southwest Public Service’s (SPS) has installed two new solar facilities: 70 MW in Roswell and another 70 MW in Chavez County that went into production in 2016 at a cost of 4.2¢/kWh that will save consumers $84 million net present value (NPV) over the life of the project. SPS had 700 MW of wind approved as a system resource by the New Mexico PRC at cost of 2.3¢/kWh, that will save ratepayers $590 million NPV. In 2014, El Paso Electric (EPE) is getting 50 MW of solar energy from the Macho Springs Solar facility, located in Luna County, at a price of 5.8¢/kWh and costs have continued to decline since. When PNM issued an all-source request for proposal in 2016 for 50 MW of powers it received market bids for a market price of 4.2¢/kWh for solar and a market price of 3.3¢/kWh wind, both significantly below current costs of coal (7¢/kWh) and nuclear (9.5 ¢/kWh). PNM declined to purchase any renewable energy even at these low costs. Reliably integrated renewables are cheaper for customers, better for our health and environment!
SJGS air and water pollution
PNM is the majority owner and operator of the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS), one of the largest and dirtiest coal plants in the United States, which is located in Waterflow, New Mexico. SJGS produces approximately 1800 megawatts of power and provides energy to meet about 60% of PNM customer needs in New Mexico. SJGS generates approximately 13 million tons of carbon annually and is New Mexico’s single largest polluter. The burning of coal produces millions of tons of extremely hazardous coal ash that PNM put into the coal mine. There is a concern that because of the low water table that the coal ash has leached into groundwater. SJGS consumes 6.3 billion gallons of clean water per annum.
According to the New Mexico Environment Department, between 2005 and 2008, the SJGS coal plant amassed 60,000 violations of PNM’s air quality permit limits for nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide and opacity at the company’s coal-fired power plant.  In addition, air pollution from the power plant has been a major source of harmful haze in the Four Corners region, clouding the air and views in economically important national parks, including the Grand Canyon.

Health Impacts from SJGS
The pollution from the San Juan coal plant is known to cause increased rates of asthma, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, birth defects and infant mortality. A “conservative estimate” of the“the total public health-based [costs is]… between $24.7 to $60.8 million per year”, according to the Declaration of Dr. George Thurston, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Public Service Company of New Mexico v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Case No. 11-9557, January 12, 2012, attached and incorporated hereto. The communities impacted by the air, water, and soil pollutants are primarily Native American. Moreover, the pollution exacerbates climate change, causing record-setting droughts and wild fires with dire economic consequences.
SJGS – Single Largest Climate Polluter
The Potential Economic Costs in New Mexico Under a Business-As-Usual Approach to Climate Change makes clear that climate change is and will continue to create new costs directly related to warming and drought, for example, increases in health care and fire fighting cost. A report by the Climate Change Leadership Institute some of the costs that New Mexico’s families, businesses, and governments are likely to incur over the next several decades if New Mexico, other states, the U.S., and other countries were to extend a business-as-usual approach to climate change. Under this approach, the CLI assumes behaviors do not change and the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would continue to grow at rates similar to those seen during recent years, leading to increases in global temperature such as those depicted in the high-emission scenarios described by the U.S. Climate Science Program, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and others. The San Juan coal mine, located directly on the property is the second largest single methane polluter (a harmful greenhouse gas) in New Mexico.

PNM’s Coal is Costly for Ratepayers

Not only is PNM’s coal dependency been an affront to public health and the environment it has been extremely costly. PNM is currently heavily invested in two primary energy resource areas: coal (60%) and nuclear (20%). Because these fuel sources are subject to weighty environmental regulations, need ongoing capital improvements to keep them operational and safe that require, and have substantial decommissioning liabilities  PNM’s rates continue to rise.  At the same time, PNM’s profits rise due to a perverse incentive that provides a guaranteed return pre-tax profit of over 10% for all capital expenditures including pollution controls. As the marginal cost of coal rises, New Mexico’s families and businesses are seeing higher and higher rates while PNM is enjoying ever increasing profits.
PNM has already increased electricity rates five times since 2008. In December 2016, PNM filed a new rate case asking for another 14.3%.  In 2014, residential customers of PNM already paid the highest electricity rates among PNM’s regional peer group in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. PNM’s proposed additional rate increase on New Mexico residents would set its residential rates 30% higher than the average rates for the regional peer group in 2014.
As PNM has pushed rates 64% higher on its residential customers from 2008-2016, PNM’songoing after tax profits rose 461% from 2008 to $88 million in 2014 – and its stock price rose 194%. Over the same time period median income for New Mexicans decreased by 6%. Simultaneously, PNM has disconnected the electricity from 22,485 New Mexicans in 2014.
It is absolutely scary what PNM would likely get away with, without the dogged opposition, solid research, and impeccable values of NEE. Kudos to you: Mariel Nanasi, Bianca Sopoci-Belknap, Lyla June Johnston, Marisol Fernandez y Mora, and Jessica Eva Montoya, with special thanks to David Van Winkle, volunteer researcher extraordinaire.
From Oakland, Roxanne and I tip our hats to you, New Energy Economy! Click here to go to our Tithe Today page and click the link for NEE today. They have been working ceaselessly for years in the fight against climate change.

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1 reply

  1. I also read that the closing is conditional to a rate increase.

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