photo of natural gas plant

By Mona Blaber,
Rio Grande Chapter communications coordinator

Last year, PNM proposed a 187-megawatt natural-gas plant as part of its replacement for the power lost when it shuts two units of coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in 2017.

PNM issued a request for proposals for the project. But they limited the proposals only to natural gas.

Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, of which the Rio Grande Chapter is a member, and New Energy Economy intervened in the case before the Public Regulation Commission, arguing that PNM did not need the extra capacity, in part because the Navopache cooperative and city of Gallup had ended their contracts with the utility. PNM asked to delay consideration of its application and said it would reconsider its need.

In a December order, the Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner said “PNM’s Strategist modeling appears to show the absence of a need for the 187-MW natural gas plant proposed by PNM until 2023. Instead, PNM’s modeling shows the need for a series of solar plants starting in 2019.”

The hearing examiner also noted that “PNM carries the burden of proof to show that its proposed resource is the most cost-effective choice among feasible alternatives to serve PNM’s resource needs.”

PNM subsequently withdrew its request, but stated that it may file a new request. In late April, PNM did indeed refile to build a much smaller, 80-megawatt natural-gas plant at the San Juan site.

PNM should be required to perform an all-source request for proposals to determine whether the gas plant is the most cost-effective way to serve PNM’s resources needs, and to file new testimony supporting the amended application that includes the scope of alternatives evaluated. To keep updated on this case, please email riogrande.chapter@sierraclub.org.

PNM resubmits request for natural gas plant