PNM Commits to Eliminating Coal Generation by 2031

PNM plans to replace coal-generated power with solar, wind, nuclear and natural gas power, according to its 2017 Integrated Resource Plan draft, which it is required to submit to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission every three years.
Four Corners Power Plant, New Mexico
Four Corners Power Plant, New Mexico

PNM announced its plans to eliminate the company’s use of coal-fired generation by the end of 2031 and replace it with solar, wind, natural gas and nuclear power. The company released a draft of the 2017 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which is open to public input and comments. A final report will be filed with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) by July 3, 2017.

The 20-year plan, which PNM is required by law to submit to the NMPRC every three years, summarizes the most effective resources that will support reliability and environmental responsibility.

“Market forces are driving a rapid evolution of energy resources, and the current data clearly shows that replacing the coal in our current portfolio with a cleaner energy mix that includes more renewables and natural gas is the best, most economical path to a strong energy future for New Mexico,” Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources’ chairman, president & CEO, said in a prepared statement.

PNM committed to closing next year two of four generating units at the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) to meet environmental regulations. Additionally, the company plans to withdraw its 13 percent participation in the Four Corners Power Plant in 2031 when the existing coal-supply agreement expires. PNM would retain its capacity in the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (PVNGS) that is currently being leased. PVNGS is a constant carbon-free resource that reduces water usage while diversifying the resource portfolio.

In accordance with the SJGS settlement agreement previously approved by the NMPRC, the IRC takes into account two possible scenarios—one that implies the retirement of SJGS at the end of 2022, and another assuming its continued operation after 2022.

“While this plan offers significant environmental benefits and is the most cost-effective for customers, we know that it will have an impact on the economy of the Four Corners area and the families and businesses that depend on the coal industry for income, especially the Navajo Nation,” added Vincent-Collawn. “PNM will work with the communities that will be most affected and other stakeholders to mitigate the effects of these changes.”

The company already issued requests for proposals to increase solar capacity on its grid to meet the state mandate that it derives at least 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.

Image courtesy of EcoFlight via EarthJustice