ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Public Service Company of New Mexico held its first open public meeting Thursday on the planned shutdown of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station, marking the start of what could be a long, contentious process to transition the grid to carbon-free electricity.
About 50 people attended in person, mostly representatives from environmental and energy-related organizations. Others participated online through a live webcast from the Albuquerque Museum in Old Town where the meeting took place.
PNM executives said the utility wants feedback on four plant-shutdown and power-replacement options it proposed in a July 1 filing with the state Public Regulation Commission. The utility is proposing a “least-cost” option, or “scenario,” to replace San Juan power with a mix of solar, wind, natural gas and battery storage systems.
But it also offered three alternative scenarios to address different public preferences, including two that would eliminate new natural gas generation entirely, and one that, in contrast, relies almost entirely on a new natural gas plant located in San Juan County, allowing the utility to offset the local impact of closing the coal plant by offering new jobs and property tax income.
The PRC will review the different options in public hearings over the next nine to 15 months. But the utility wants to offer the public opportunities for direct input, said PNM Vice President for Public Policy Ron Darnell.