PNM plan to close San Juan on track

By Mona Blaber

The Public Regulation Commission on December 19 moved New Mexico one step closer to a nearly coal-free future.

The commission accepted PNM’s “Integrated Resource Plan,” a 20-year plan that New Mexico’s utilities are required to submit every three years.

It includes the retirement of the remaining units at coal-fired San Juan Generating Station by the end of 2022 and an exit from PNM’s 13 percent participation in the Four Corners Power Plant when the existing coal agreement expires in 2031. While not all partners have committed to closing Four Corners in 2031, PNM and Tucson Electric’s withdrawal plans signal that that coal plant, too, has become too costly.

The plan adds 50 megawatts of solar but adds gas in 2023 to replace San Juan Units 1 and 4. The Coalition for Clean, Affordable Energy filed a comment supporting the coal-plant exits but objecting to the gas reliance. The plan is not binding, and Sierra Club and our CCAE allies will use every opportunity to convert PNM to a renewable-heavy portfolio.

SPS gets to sell wind credits: The PRC also ruled in December that SPS could sell all the “renewable-energy certificates” from the massive Hale and Sagamore wind projects it’s building. That means other utilities in New Mexico or other states can use the credits to comply with state requirements instead of building their own renewables.

SPS has touted the renewable benefits of these wind farms, and a utility that buys the credits could also claim the same environmental benefits, leading to double-counting. Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy will ask for a rehearing. Your voice matters in convincing commissioners that selling credits reduces renewables.

Vote Solar, SPS appeal rate case: When the commission in September rejected SPS’s monthly fee on solar-using customers, it was a big win for solar energy. SPS has appealed another aspect of the case, and Vote Solar is also appealing because, while the commission rejected the fee, it seemed to reject a legal argument that would also rule out similar fees from PNM and El Paso Electric. The appeals court has not yet heard the case.

PNM plan to close San Juan on track