Public Service Co. of New Mexico on Monday announced it would aim eliminate carbon emissions from its power generation by 2040, following a commitment from Washington utility Avista last week to produce 100% carbon neutral electricity by 2027 and carbon-free power by 2045.
Both utilities' main service areas passed 100% clean energy mandates this year. New Mexico in March committed to 100% carbon-free by 2045 and a final version of the Washington bill with the same goals passed the state Senate on Monday.
PNM is the largest utility in New Mexico, with over half a million customers in the state. Avista serves less than half a million customers, with the majority in Washington, less than a third in Idaho and 5% in Oregon.
The utility commitments mark a growing alignment between state legislators and power providers in the push for cleaner generation. As more states introduce and advance legislation mandating emissions reductions from generators, utility involvement is critical political support.
For Washington, carbon-free isn't a huge ask — the state generates the majority of its electricity from hydropower, making it the second largest provider of renewable energy power in the country after California.
But for New Mexico, which generates more than half its electricity from coal and 30% from natural gas, more coordination is needed.
Securitization was a major provision in the state's bill, which will help recover the costs of coal plant retirements and allocate funds toward transitioning mining communities.
The energy transition is key in the state's legislative language and in the utility's plans.
"The key is 'Transition' not 'Additions,'" the utility says on its website. "The plan recognizes that developments in energy markets and technology now allow for a move away from fossil fuel without jeopardizing reliability or necessitating high costs."
PNM in December received approval for an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that it said would phase out coal entirely by 2031. The company now says stakeholder participation for its 2020 IRP will open in June of this year.
Avista powers slightly less than half its electricity from hydropower and less than 10% from coal. The company owns a share of the Colstrip plant in Montana, and has been planning since February to build its portfolio around shuttering down the two units it co-owns with PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Its natural gas portfolio is more significant, powering 35% of its 1,106 MW of average electric generation. Under its new goal, that generation will phase out over the next 25 years.
"While a bill about to pass the Washington State legislature will already require Avista Energy to move away from coal and fracked gas by 2045, it's good news that the utility intends to extend the benefits of clean energy to its Idaho customers as well," said Zack Waterman, Director of the Idaho Chapter of the Sierra Club, in a statement.
Avista serves less than 400,000 electric customers and around 355,000 natural gas customers around the Northwest territory.