New Mexico high court clears way for vote on partial San Juan coal plant shutdown

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Nov. 9 dismissed the petition of an environmental group, New Energy Economy, to recuse four of the five New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioners presiding over PNM Resources‘ (NYSE: PNM) subsidiary Public Service Co. of New Mexico‘s San Juan coal plant case.

PNM noted in a Nov. 9 statement that the dismissal followed oral arguments presented that day to the court by the four commissioners, PNM, Western Resource Advocates and NEE. If approved by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC), this case would provide PNM’s customers with the most cost effective path to comply with the Regional Haze rules of the Clean Air Act, said PNM. The case covers partial retirement of the plant.

“We are pleased that the N.M. Supreme Court is allowing the Commission to vote on our filing,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources chairman, president and CEO. “We appreciate that the Court promptly issued its decision permitting this case to proceed. The Court’s quick decision should permit the Commission time to decide our proceeding before the end of the year.”

The NMPRC hearings before the Hearing Examiner were held Oct. 13–20. The Hearing Examiner is now preparing a Recommended Decision, which should be provided to the NMPRC by the end of November.

PNM’s filing represents an agreement with broad support of the parties to this case including the Utility Division Staff of the NMPRC, the N.M. Attorney General, Western Resource Advocates, the N.M. Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, N.M. Industrial Energy Consumers, N.M. Independent Power Producers and Interwest Energy Alliance.

In a 2013 regional haze State Implementation Plan (SIP), New Mexico determined that the approved controls for San Juan Units 1 and 4 will be selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) for NOX control. Additionally, Units, 2 and 3 would be retired by the end of 2017. San Juan is a four-unit coal facility with a net capacity of about 1,685 MW located near Farmington, New Mexico. It is co-owned by several parties, including Public Service Co. of New Mexico and Tucson Electric Power. The commission is considering approval of various matters related to this partial shutdown.

PNM Resources is an energy holding company based in Albuquerque, N.M., with 2014 consolidated operating revenues of $1.4 billion. Through its regulated utilities, PNM Resources has approximately 2,707 MW of generation capacity and provides electricity to more than 753,000 homes and businesses in New Mexico and Texas.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.