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PNM plans to drop coal draws praise

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Public Service Co. of New Mexico plan to eliminate coal-fired generation from the grid by 2031 is drawing praise from environmental groups, but cautious reactions about what power will replace it.
The utility published a first draft on Thursday of its new integrated resource plan, a 20-year guideline that the company produces every three years to outline the lowest-cost options for long-term power supply while also considering grid reliability and environmental policies. The draft calls for shedding roughly 700 megawatts of coal-fired electricity that, as of next year, PNM will still be generating from the San Juan and Four Corners power plants near Farmington.
The pullout would happen as coal contracts expire at the plants, which for San Juan is 2022 and Four Corners 2031. PNM would replace lost power with a mix of solar, wind, natural gas and nuclear generation.
But environmentalists want to see how much renewable energy PNM actually plans to add to the grid, compared with natural gas and nuclear.
“We’re very glad to see the draft shows that moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewables is the cheapest thing for customers,” said Chuck Noble, attorney for the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy. “It’s a good step in the right direction, but we still have concerns about replacement power. The plan calls for more renewables, but there’s still a fair amount of natural gas and other fossil fuels in there.”