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Santa Fe opposes PNM’s replacement power plan

SANTA FE, N.M. — The city of Santa Fe is on record as opposing a PNM plan to replace two electricity generating units at a coal-fired power plant in the Four Corners area with natural gas and nuclear power.

On Wednesday, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve a resolution that urges the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to require that PNM’s replacement power plan includes “as much renewable energy as is technologically and economically feasible.”

“The fight doesn’t end here,” Councilor Chris Rivera said. “It continues with the PRC.”

The PRC ultimately has the authority to approve PNM’s plan.

Santa Fe has already signed on as an intervener against PNM’s proposed plan. The plan calls for PNM to replace the units at the San Juan Generating Station with 134 megawatts from the Palo Verde nuclear plant near Phoenix, 177 megawatts from a new natural gas plant in Farmington, and 40 megawatts of utility scale solar power.

In addition, the resolution states that PNM’s replacement power plan unfairly places too much of a financial burden on ratepayers.

PNM is calling for ratepayers to cover more than $200 million in investments it has already made at the San Juan Generating Station.

The council’s vote was met with applause from people in the audience, many of whom spoke in favor of the resolution during a public hearing, including a groups of students from Acequia Madre and Wood Gormley elementary schools.

“Not much thought was given to the future when they built those coal plants. The future is now,” one 11-year-old from Wood Gromley said.

The students said PNM should focus its attention on utilizing plentiful sources of energy found in New Mexico, wind and solar power.

Fifteen adults spoke in favor of the resolution, including a sustainable energy student from Santa Fe Community College who delivered her message in hip-hop style rhyme, a woman recovering from mercury poisoning who said she developed the condition from living downwind from a coal plant, a physician who talked about the health risks associated with coal-fired power plants, and a woman from Santo Domingo Pueblo who spoke about how many indigenous tribes make decisions based on how it would affect the next seven generations of their people.

“Decisions like these will impact more than seven generations,” she said.

Mayor Javier Gonzales said the city received a letter from PNM, saying it respectfully declined to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Santa Fe’s resolution states that PNM’s plan may not achieve the city’s carbon dioxide reduction and energy efficiency goals, doesn’t take into account external costs to human health and air quality, and may not provide the best employment opportunities for New Mexicans.

It urges the PRC to require PNM to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions “in amounts consistent with what the vast majority of climate scientists conclude is necessary to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change.”

A public hearing in PNM’s case before the PRC will be held from Aug. 19 to Aug. 29.

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