I hope you are each well and holding up as best you can. In my family we’re settling into a somewhat productive routine, which involves late-night grown-up work and a lot more daytime setting up elaborate Thomas the Train configurations. As we each adjust in our way we want to make sure that you’ve got the latest on what’s happening with our efforts to protect our climate and our communities, so here goes.
Voter Registration and Absentee Ballots – First, although the primary ballot is not yet ready, you can already request an absentee ballot at this link. If you have friends or relatives who have not yet registered to vote you can forward them this link to register.
On the electric generation and renewables front…
PRC to Vote on Abandonment and Financing – You’ll remember that the last time I wrote the PRC was going to discuss the San Juan Generating Station Abandonment and Replacement case. Now this Wednesday (4/1) at 9:30am they’ll take a vote on this action. Please find the instructions for watching the meeting here.
Good news on renewables!! On Friday, the PRC hearing examiners in the San Juan replacement-power case (separate from the case regarding PNM’s exit from the plant) issued the first part of a Recommended Decision, recommending approval of the Arroyo Project with 300 MW of solar and 40 MW of battery storage and the Jicarilla Project with 50 MW solar and 20 MW battery storage. This recommendation precludes the scenario that some were advocating that uses mostly gas. Commissioners need to approve those renewables by April 30.
These 2 projects fulfill only part of the gap left by abandonment of San Juan, so the hearing examiners will issue a separate Recommended Decision on the balance of the resources needed to replace San Juan. Importantly, the Examiners did not recommend approval of Scenario 2, which has 400+ MW of gas, and which PRC Staff supported. In fact, the Hearing Examiners expressly stated that they are not recommending approval of PNM Scenario 2, because it does not meet the ETA’s requirements to have the least environmental impact and higher ratios of capital-to-fuel costs. In addition, approval of Jicarilla and Arroyo precludes Scenario 2, since Jicarilla and Arroyo were not both part of Scenario 2. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our legal team for pushing so hard, and making such a strong case for 100% renewables. We’re not there yet, but this is a great first step.
In the second half of the Recommended Decision on replacement resources, the Hearing Examiners will be choosing among the portfolios that include the Arroyo and Jicarilla projects. All of the portfolios put forward by the parties include Arroyo and Jicarilla (although some portfolios, like the Sierra Club’s and CCAE’s, included larger batteries at the Arroyo and Jicarilla sites than the Hearing Examiners are recommending).
Approval of the Jicarilla and Arroyo projects does not preclude approval of gas units in an amount less than in Scenario 2. But we will continue to advocate for 100% renewables and battery as replacement.
Solar Direct – We had some other good news last week when the PRC approved Solar Direct, which will allow the City of Albuquerque and other large users to access large quantities of solar energy. See our press release here.
On the oil and gas front…
Watch the methane meeting: For those of you who weren’t able to participate in the Methane online meeting regarding the health and economic impacts of oil and gas waste and pollution, you can watch a recording of the webinar. You can also comment at firstname.lastname@example.org
OpEds – Check out a couple of great opinion pieces from our partners. Here’s one from Celerah Hewes with Moms Clean Air Force, which you can retweet here, about the important health benefits of state, oil and gas methane waste and pollution rules. And here’s another excellent oped in the Albuquerque Journal, by James Jimenez, Director of New Mexico Voices for Children (retweet here). This would be a good chance to write a letter to the editor in support of strong rules. Here’s our guide for doing that.
Also, oil and gas production and prices continue to fall, even while we are left exposed with federal regulations continually rolled back and Trump announcing that the EPA will not enforce most environmental regulations.
I don’t like to end with the bad news, but this is a good reminder of the power of our state government to protect us in a way that the federal government is refusing to do, both on the climate crisis and on Covid-19. Let’s keep reading, writing, speaking out and acting (from home).
We’ll be in touch again soon.