Last updated: 4:42 pm
FARMINGTON — The state Environmental Improvement Board listened to a full day of testimony Thursday and then unanimously approved a plan to shut down half of Public Service Company of New Mexico’s coal-fired San Juan Generating Station.
PNM, the state Environment Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency struck an agreement in February to bring the plant into compliance with federal haze regulations.
The plan calls for shutting down two of the four generating units at the plant, partially replacing lost power with a new natural gas-fueled generating station, and installation of more nitrogen oxide emission controls on the remaining two units at the plant. Those changes would cost about $430 million, or about half the estimated price tag for complying with EPA’s original order to install expensive NOX controls on all four operating units.
Environment Department Secretary Designate Ryan Flynn appealed for the board’s support at hearings on Thursday at San Juan College.
“In our opinion, this is the best path forward in a difficult situation,” Flynn told the board.
Rick Alvidrez, attorney for PNM in the process, called the EIB decision “a critical first step in a very long regulatory process to implement this plan.”
Apart from the EIB, the EPA must still formally approve the plan through a public hearing process. The state Public Regulation Commission must give its stamp of approval as well.