We’re Asking the Courts to Weigh in on Application of the Energy Transition Act

San Juan Generating Station

New Mexico recently passed a landmark energy transition bill known as the Energy Transition Act (ETA). The bill was groundbreaking not just for setting an aggressive renewable portfolio standard, but also for creating funding to ensure a just transition for impacted workers and communities. The bill funded job training and transition support for displaced power plant and mine workers as well as money for economic diversification in San Juan County.

The Public Regulation Commission, however, has overstepped its authority in refusing to confirm the law applies to the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s (PNM) abandonment filing for the coal-powered San Juan Generating Station. The commission appears to be circumventing the recently passed law. We worked diligently to ensure the legislation wouldn’t just encourage transition to renewable energy, but provide resources for the communities most impacted by such transitions. This recent move threatens support for those most impacted. 

We’ve joined forces with other conservation, labor and community groups to get clarification regarding whether the Energy Transition Act should indeed apply to this recent abandonment filing for San Juan Generating Station.

Learn More about the Energy Transition Act and our Energy Transition campaign.

Full Press Release Below.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2019                                                                                           

NM Conservation, Labor, and Community Groups File with State Supreme Court to Clarify That Energy Transition Act Applies to San Juan Generating Station Closure 

  
Santa Fe, NM (August 30, 2019) – New Mexico environmental, community, and labor advocates, as well as Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), filed a motion yesterday with the state Supreme Court asking the court to clarify that the Energy Transition Act applies to proceedings on PNM’s closure and replacement of the San Juan Generating Station. The filing also requested a shortened response time due to the urgency of making this clarification.

The Public Regulation Commission has left New Mexico communities, families, and businesses in limbo by refusing to confirm that the ETA applies to PNM’s filing. That refusal has jeopardized the many benefits the act was intended to provide,” said Maria Nájera, government affairs director for Western Resource Advocates, one of the petitioners. “The Energy Transition Act is New Mexico’s law, and it’s time to end this debate at the PRC and begin serious efforts to prepare for the closure and replacement of the San Juan Generating Station. We hope to see a quick decision by the state Supreme Court so all parties can move forward efficiently and with certainty.”

“San Juan County families are counting on the job training and apprenticeship opportunities the ETA provides, and the lack of clarity from the PRC has put those resources at risk,” said Brian Condit, president of the New Mexico Building Trades. “New Mexico should be helping communities build their 21st century workforce, not stymie progress and make businesses think twice about investing here. We look forward to seeing a swift decision from the court.”

“We are hopeful that the court will decide quickly and definitively that the Energy Transition Act is the law of New Mexico and applies to PNM’s shut down of the San Juan coal plant,” said Chuck Noble, attorney for the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy. “The law provides for significant funding for the workers and communities affected by the shutdown, and for a clean energy future for New Mexico.”

“Applying the ETA is the only way to provide $40 million in financial assistance to the tribes, communities, and workers impacted by closing the plant. Federal tax credits for renewable energy will be reduced at the end of the year, jeopardizing the renewable projects being considered as replacement energy or making them more expensive if we wait too long,” said Camilla Feibelman, director of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. “While the PRC debates issues already resolved by the Legislature, the climate crisis impacts our families and communities and the plant barrels toward shutdown with no protections for workers.”
 
“New Mexicans need to know now that the Energy Transition Act applies to the San Juan Generating Station abandonment case and that the proceedings before the Public Regulation Commission will be legitimate,” said Thomas Singer with the Western Environmental Law Center. “Further, the funding provided by the law is critical to ensure a just transition for the communities living in the shadow of the plant’s coal pollution.

Labor unions, environmental advocates, the Navajo Nation, community organizations, businesses, and utilities came together earlier this year to support passage of the Energy Transition Act. The ETA carefully manages New Mexico’s transition from its coal-fired legacy to a clean and renewable energy future, while at the same time providing economic opportunities for coal miners, San Juan plant workers, and the impacted region.

Contact
:
Jamie Trafficanda, Western Resource Advocates, 720-763-3737, jamie@westernresources.org 
Thomas Singer, Western Environmental Law Center, 505-231-1070, singer@westernlaw.org 
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