Public Service Company of New Mexico is proposing to shed all of its coal-fired electricity in the next 14 years and replace it with solar, wind, natural gas and nuclear power.
The company’s latest integrated resource plan – which looks out over 20 years to determine the cheapest, most reliable and environmentally friendly mix of resources – has found that shutting down the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington in 2022 and relinquishing the utility’s 13 percent share in the nearby Four Corners Generating Station in 2031 would save consumers money in the long term.
The company published a first draft of the resource plan late Thursday. It’s now open for public comment before a final version is filed with New Mexico Public Regulation Commission in July.
The 20-year plan, which PNM is required by law to submit to the PRC every three years, outlines the most effective way to deliver reliable, affordable and environmentally stable energy going forward, said PNM Resources’ Chairwoman, President and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn.
“Market forces are driving a rapid evolution of energy resources, and the current data clearly supports the replacement of the coal in our portfolio with an energy mix that includes more renewables and natural gas as the best, most economical path to a strong energy future for New Mexico,” Vincent-Collawn said in a statement.
In preparing the new resource plan, the company compared the costs and benefits of two future scenarios, one with San Juan still operating after 2022 and one without. It modeled hundreds of different energy mixes under both scenarios to determine the lowest-cost option for consumers, which now appears to be not only shutting down all of San Juan, but exiting all holdings in the Four Corners plant, as well, when the coal supply contract there ends in 2031, said PNM’s planning and resources director, Pat O’Connell.
“The plan would get PNM entirely out of coal,” O’Connell said. “It would be replaced by hundreds of megawatts more of solar and natural gas, some nuclear and possibly wind resources.”