PNM: San Juan coal plant uneconomical after 2022

Photo of PNM's San Juan Coal Fired Generator Plant for the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter website
For immediate release: Thursday, March 16, 2017
Contact: Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter director, 505-715-8388, camilla.feibelman@sierraclub.org

On Thursday, Public Service Company of New Mexico announced that an analysis of San Juan Generating Station in Waterflow, N.M., found that the coal-fired power plant will no longer be economically viable after 2022, when the plant’s coal contract and ownership agreements expire.

This result will almost certainly expedite PNM’s transition from the plant to other sources of power. This latest development comes just a few years after PNM, the state of New Mexico, and other parties agreed on a plan to close two of the plant’s four coal units by December 2017.

It is critical for the owners of San Juan Generating Station to lay out a plan that ensures direct investment into the community and support for the plant’s workers, including taking advantage of the abundant clean energy opportunities and existing transmission available in northwestern New Mexico.  

San Juan Generating Station now joins two other coal plants in the West that are on a path to early closure because of economic concerns– two units at the Colstrip plant in Colstrip, Montana, will close in 2022, and last month utility owners of the Navajo Generating Station announced they will all exit the plant 25 years ahead of schedule.

Bill Corcoran, Western Regional Director for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, issued the following statement:

“PNM’s conclusion that closing the San Juan Generating Station 30 years ahead of schedule will save customers money is yet another example of how coal is becoming an economic burden. Following last month’s announcement that the Navajo Generating Station is likely to close decades ahead of schedule, this is the second plant in the Southwest this year to announce early closure because of coal’s costs. These announcements point to why it is so important for us to prepare for the inevitable transition from coal to clean energy. We must take this economic shift seriously and truly think about how we can support workers who have dedicated their lives to keeping our lights on and the communities that have lived in the shadow of pollution. If we don’t prepare for the future, it will be their families who carry the burden.”

Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter director, issued the following statement:

“PNM’s announcement is a clear sign that coal is not economically sustainable. Now is the time to focus on an economic transition for the hardworking families in Northwest New Mexico. Fortunately, there is vast solar potential and a massive transmission network that can create clean-energy jobs providing affordable, reliable energy to the region. This will require immediate and thoughtful action from PNM, the state, local government, and other local stakeholders.”

Dan Millis, Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter Conservation Program coordinator in Tucson, Ariz., issued the following statement:

“The news that New Mexico’s San Juan Generating Station may close well ahead of schedule comes closely on the heels of the Navajo Generating Station closure announcement in northern Arizona. Coal has clearly become an economic burden, and it’s time to focus on investing in clean-energy jobs that can take advantage of our region’s vast renewable-energy potential to provide affordable, reliable energy.”

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