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SJCA Guide to the

San Juan Generating Station

The economics of the San Juan Generating Station and San Juan Mine (SJGS/SJM) make no sense. It’s time for a just and orderly transition away from coal.

Current Status

The San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) is scheduled to shut down in 2022. Some misled organizations are trying to keep the plant open through unproven carbon capture technology; we’re fighting to ensure closure and a just transition to renewable energy.

What’s Happening?

The San Juan Generating Station and San Juan Mine complex (SJGS/SJM) is New Mexico’s single largest polluter. While the facilities provide electricity to 500,000 customers, they do so at a great cost to the health of surrounding communities and the environment.

The coal industry is struggling. Across the nation, utilities are moving to cheaper, cleaner renewables. As a result, the largest owner of SJGS, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) has backed the Energy Transition Act and committed to closing SJGS in 2022 as part of its own shift towards clean energy. The San Juan Mine, which sells coal solely to SJGS, faces an uncertain future.

In a regressive push to keep the plant open, the City of Farmington and San Juan County have made public their intent to attempt to keep the plant open through installation of carbon capture technology. The technology, however, is unproven for this scale and application.

We’re engaging in the transition to ensure our communities aren’t left behind when PNM moves on from SJGS. We must invest in the future and not settle for anything less than a just, orderly transition to a clean energy future.

Who’s Involved?

Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM)

  • PNM has stated they plan to close SJGS by 2022 and, after filing for abandonment with the Public Regulation Commission, will begin the process of officially decommissioning the plant.
  • As part of the 2019 Energy Transition Act (link to our energy transition page) PNM will bond up to $40 million for economic development, workforce retraining and severances in the Four Corners along with $30 million for site reclamation.
  • PNM has committed to producing 100% carbon-free energy by 2040
  • After closure, PNM will be obligated to site replacement power in the Four Corners, which could be renewables.

The City of
Farmington

  • The City is expending time, resources, and money that could be going towards sustainable solutions for the community into exploring carbon capture technology for SJGS. Carbon capture is an unproven technology never before successful in this specific application (a decades-old coal plant) or scale.
  • Farmington has partnered with an inexperienced, minimally staffed equity firm called Acme Equities, LLC to attempt to secure a buyer for the plant.
  • In 2015, Farmington stated it did not want to increase its ownership of SJGS due to countless reasons, including the age of the plant and likely uneconomic nature of coal. Now they’re fighting against all odds to keep the plant running.

In April 2017, the Public Service Company of New Mexico announced they plan to close San Juan Generating Station in 2022 and replace it with other energy sources, including wind and solar. 

Will they build these projects in the Northwest New Mexico communities that have supported them for so long?

Image with text what are we doing

As PNM files for abandonment of the San Juan Generating Station and the landmark energy transition bill, Energy Transition Act, passed in 2019 goes into effect, we’ll be engaging at all levels to ensure our communities have a vibrant future. Our work will be focused primarily on:

Transition Funding

One of the most important stipulations of the Energy Transition Act is the funding earmarked for San Juan County economic development. We are working to ensure this money gets to where it needs to go: impacted communities and workers for retraining, severance or pensions, and investing in a robust energy economy that will stand the test of time.

Renewables

The Energy Transition Act mandates that at least some of PNM’s replacement power after shuttering the San Juan Generating Station must be sited in Central Consolidated School District. This will help replace lost tax revenue. We are advocating for utility-scale solar, which would represent a sustainable, long-term investment in our community and economy on the part of PNM.

Reclamation

PNM will bond $30 million for reclamation. There has been talk of simply fencing the plant off after it closes and calling it good. That would be unacceptable. We’re advocating for meaningful reclamation done properly and by those responsible for the damage.

Economic Diversification

Local officials in Farmington and San Juan County are investing time, energy and money fighting the SJGS closure at all costs. They’re wasting public funds and robbing our communities of opportunities to benefit from the new energy economy. We’re advocating for a greater focus on and investment in a more diversified economy that will benefit keep jobs and money in our communities for decades to come. See the report on best opportunities for diversification.

San Juan Mine Update:

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) released its final draft of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for San Juan Mine and it looked just like the previous draft. It didn’t explore a just transition alternative and sited the preferred action as keeping the mine open past SJGS closure, despite failing to offer any solution as to where the coal might go. This is inadequate and a denial of the economic reality our community is facing.

Renewables are the future.


The future is bright…and renewable

Major coal company bankruptcies have shaken the energy sector and aren’t slowing down. Navajo Generating Station, a huge coal plant outside of Page, Arizona, is closing at the end of 2019 because coal is no longer profitable. The owner of SJGS, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), will file for abandonment of the plant in 2019, planning to replace it with more affordable renewable generation.

Renewables are cheaper – especially in New Mexico.

New Mexico is the perfect state for renewable energy – both solar and wind. The state has the third largest solar potential in the nation, yet still only a fraction of the state’s electricity is generated with renewables. Through wind and solar alone, New Mexico could easily provide PNM’s needs several times over.

Utilities, municipalities and governments all around northwest New Mexico are investing in renewable energy and it’s time Farmington join them.

  • In 2019, the Navajo Nation issued a proclamation stating their intent to move away from coal and towards renewables.
  • PNM partnered with the Jicarilla Apache tribe to generate 50MW of solar, with half of it going to Albuquerque.
  • Bloomfield is working to break free from Farmington Electric Utility System to explore renewable energy possibilities with Guzman Energy.
  • Big utilities such as Arizona Public Service (APS) are investing in renewables plus storage with unprecedentedly low contract rates.
  • Across Colorado and New Mexico, rural electric cooperatives are fighting to free themselves from the coal-powered contracts of Tri-State.

It’s time to leave the economically unsound San Juan Generating Station behind and transition to a sustainable energy economy.

What are the impacts of SJGS and the San Juan Mine?

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Learn more

Wonder what’s happening at SJGS’s sister plant, the Four Corners Power Plant? Click here. Or check out this map for a host of other regional energy issues.

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