- A hearing opened Monday before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to decide whether to affirm the agreement between Public Service of New Mexico (PNM), the EPA, New Mexico’s attorney general, and other stakeholders on controlling pollution from the coal-burning San Juan Generating Station.
- The commission’s decision is expected to determine the direction of New Mexico energy policy, Penn Energy reports. PNM claims the $6.8 billion, 20 year proposal to close two of four San Juan units, buy Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Station generation, and add new natural gas capacity and a small amount of solar capacity would meet both EPA regional haze restrictions and ratepayer cost concerns.
- Environmental advocates are unsatisfied with the PNM plan. New Energy Economy (NEE) claims the utility is withholding information on cost and Sierra Club believes the plan should include more renewables.
The PNM agreement with stakeholders was designed to meet EPA’s regional haze rule. The rule requires states to work with the federal government to control air pollution that affects visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas.
According to the EPA, the agreed-on solution meets the Clean Air Act Best Available Retrofit Technology standard, ensures San Juan emissions do not interfere with visibility in other states, protects New Mexico and other states from pollutants linked to respiratory health issues, and protects scenic views at 16 areas including the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde and other national parks.
PNM did not include the costs of meeting EPA regulations and the cost of coal ash disposal from the remaining San Juan units in its projections, according to NEE. The group also wants two commissioners to recuse themselves because of phone calls and emails with PNM that create an appearance of a conflict of interest. The commissioners deny the conflict.