Misinformation and rumors have arisen locally surrounding the closure of the Escalante power plant in Prewitt. These rumors have fanned flames that play to both sides of the political aisle, and political posturing has replaced the real conversation needed to prepare for the oncoming economic changes. As chair of New Mexico House Appropriations and Finance Committee and a local economic developer, it is my duty to explain what is happening and what we’re doing to save jobs and protect our communities.
This issue is very personal for me. Growing up in Milan, I lived through the collapse of the uranium industry bearing witness to its impact on our families and communities. That is why I’ve sounded the alarm and been planning for this event for the last five years. The writing is on the wall; changes in the national, regional, and San Juan County energy markets have made coal a difficult product. It’s no longer a question of “if” but “when” the ripple effects impact our communities, which is why my partners and I have studies and plans that position us well. Now is the time to execute.
That is why I’ve sponsored House Bill 8, a bill to bring urgent economic relief to communities in McKinley and Cibola counties by forming an economic development district and a new taxing authority. House Bill 8 is the culmination of a collaborative effort between the Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation and Transmission Association LLC., McKinley County and the Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments. This has allowed for locally driven solutions for much-needed investments.
To explain House Bill 8 and its necessity, it’s essential to break down what is happening in our community:
• In 10 months, the Prewitt Escalante Generating Station will close and put the economies of McKinley and Cibola counties in peril.
• Tri-State & Transmission Association LLC has already announced 200 megawatts of solar power to be built in the Prewitt area and has committed $5 million to fund and support worker transition efforts.