Today, New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) voted unanimously to replace San Juan Generating Station power with 100% renewable energy when the coal-fired power plant is retired in 2022. This decision will modernize power generation, improve public health, and stabilize the local economy.

The decision will save ratepayers more than $6 per month, support 1,000 construction jobs, and invest $1 billion in Four Corners communities – $447 million in the Consolidated School District and $430 million in McKinley and Rio Arriba counties. This decision puts the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) in line to achieve the 40% renewable generation goal required by the state’s Energy Transition Act a full two years ahead of the 2025 deadline.

“This historic decision will benefit communities and generations in the Four Corners region for years to come,” said Robyn Jackson of Diné C.A.R.E. “By unanimously agreeing to an all-renewables replacement of coal power with solar and battery storage within affected communities and the Central Consolidated School District, economic relief and renewal is possible. This decision is a solid investment in community health and future economic sustainability.”

Experts testified at the PRC hearing on replacement power that a 100% renewable portfolio provides more economic stability and opportunities for job creation by serving as a commercial-scale energy storage hub for Southwestern utilities, based on existing transmission capacity.

“This is an historic decision for the Four Corners community to transition from reliance on fossil fuels,” said Mike Eisenfeld of San Juan Citizens Alliance. “This decision also triggers much-needed Energy Transition Act funds to support the local community.”

Today’s PRC decision will also stimulate the economy by hiring people for coal mine reclamation, improving property values with the decommissioning of the coal plant, and enhancing business opportunities in the recreation, agritourism, and other sectors.

“With the retirement of San Juan Generating Station and the approval of 100% renewable replacement power, a new door is opening in San Juan County and in New Mexico,” said Kyle Tisdel of the Western Environmental Law Center. “This is about our future, and the opportunities that exist if we can end the addiction to fossil fuels that have been undermining the health of our communities and the livability of our planet. This decision will diversify our economy and end the cycle of boom and bust for these coal-dependent communities. Outdoor recreation, mine reclamation, and solar are the future, and San Juan County can have it all.”

A report with technical details is available here.

Contacts:

Kyle Tisdel, Western Environmental Law Center, 575-770-7501, gro.w1604192347alnre1604192347tsew@1604192347ledsi1604192347t1604192347

Thomas Singer, Western Environmental Law Center, 505-231-1070, gro.w1604192347alnre1604192347tsew@1604192347regni1604192347s1604192347

Robyn Jackson, Diné C.A.R.E., 505-862-4433, gro.e1604192347rac-e1604192347nid@n1604192347oskca1604192347j.nyb1604192347or1604192347

Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance, 505-360-8994, gro.s1604192347nezit1604192347icnau1604192347jnas@1604192347ekim1604192347

Community quotes:

Joseph Hernandez from the NAVA Education Project, based in Shiprock: “The PRC’s decision to invest in clean renewable energy here in the Four Corners, will transform our communities. It means new investments in our school district, hundreds of jobs for tribal families, and economic transition at a time when we need it more than ever. We applaud the PRC for following the Energy Transition Act and allowing us to help New Mexico lead in the clean energy economy.”

Mike Eisenfeld from San Juan Citizens Alliance, based in Farmington: “This is a historic decision for the Four Corners community to transition from reliance on fossil fuels. This decision also triggers much-needed Energy Transition Act funds to support the local community.”

Wendy Atcitty from Dine C.A.R.E, based in Farmington: “For decades, the Navajo Nation has been living in the shadow of San Juan Generating Station’s coal pollution sending energy to other communities. The PRC’s decision today truly begins a Just Transition – we can lead the transformation to clean, renewable energy, bring opportunities and new jobs to our communities, and improve the health of our People.”

Sr. Joan Brown, osf, executive director, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light: “Caring for our communities and our sacred land, water, air and future generations is our primary spiritual and ethical responsibility. The decision today for 100 percent solar and battery replacement that offers hope and a way into a new future to the San Juan region, which was the intent of the Energy Transition Act. Thank you for this leadership.”

Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter: “Today is a huge day for our renewable economic future. The PRC’s decision shows that New Mexico can transition from dirty coal-fired energy to clean renewable energy, while providing investment and jobs for the impacted communities. This is what the Energy Transition Act was intended to do: save rate payers money, transition to renewables, help workers and communities all while investing deeply in the impacted community.”

Sanders Moore, director of Policy Solutions Institute: “We applaud the PRC’s decision, which will provide critical tax revenue and jobs for the Four Corners region, assisting families who worked in the coal industry. As the second sunniest state in the country, New Mexico is now poised to be a leader in solar energy jobs for working families here.”

Pat O’Connell, Western Resource Advocates’ senior clean energy policy analyst: “New Mexico’s future is truly brighter today thanks to the Public Regulation commissioners, who took a historic step forward in our efforts to diversify our state’s economy by acting on climate. By choosing to replace the coal-fired power from the San Juan Generating Station with a strong suite of solar and battery storage projects, the Four Corners will see $1 billion of investment, gain 1,200 construction jobs, and lead our state’s efforts to realize the vision of the Energy Transition Act.”

John Ammondson, advocate with Environment New Mexico: “The Energy Transition Act laid out a path for New Mexico to move away from the dirty legacy of fossil-fuels and toward a 100% renewable future. The PRC’s adoption of the recommended decision will make communities healthier while contributing to reduction of emissions that cause devastating climate change. Replacing coal with 100% solar and storage takes advantage of New Mexico’s amazing renewable energy resources and invests in affected communities. We commend the commission for approving this measure and moving our state forward.”

Tom Solomon, coordinator of 350 New Mexico: “With today’s decision, the PRC takes an important step to protect New Mexicans’ health and climate future. By replacing polluting coal power with 100% renewable energy & storage, the PRC takes advantage of New Mexico’s abundant solar resources, which are now undeniably a cost-effective energy solution. We applaud the commission for this decision.”

Alissa Barnes, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico: “New Mexicans have made their voices heard. Renewable energy is the future of this state, and we are ready to lead the country in how we produce and consume energy. Today’s decision from the PRC reflects those values and highlights the power of ongoing commitment to a just transition that benefits tribal communities, workers, ratepayers, and the broader state community as one collective force.”

Demis Foster, executive director, Conservation Voters New Mexico: “Today is a historic day for New Mexico’s economy, health and future. The unanimous decision by the Public Regulation Commission to approve the 100% renewable energy plan located in the Four Corners communities will provide the economic stability and clean energy investments that New Mexicans deserve. We applaud all five Commissioners for making this landmark decision, and solidifying our state’s path into the clean energy economy.”

Rikki Seguin, executive director, Interwest Energy Alliance: “Today New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission sent a strong message: New Mexico is open for business. Their actions to support a 100% renewable energy portfolio will result in over $1 billion in investment from renewable energy developers who are eager to build projects and bring jobs and revenue to our state.”

Noah Long, Western director, climate and clean energy, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): “The PRC’s decision today sets in motion the transition to a 100% clean energy economy intended by the Energy Transition Act. New Mexico is showing the nation what leadership in the clean energy economy looks like.”

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