March 5, 2019 Read More →

Coal phase-out bill moves forward in New Mexico

Albuquerque Journal:

A bill to make New Mexico’s electricity generation 100 percent carbon-free by 2045 is headed to the Senate floor following a “do-pass” vote Monday in the eight-member Corporations and Transportation Committee. The committee voted 5-2 along party lines to support the bill, with two Republican senators opposing. Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, recused himself from the vote.

Senate Bill 489, known as the Energy Transition Act, would require the state’s public utilities to derive 50 percent of their electricity from renewable resources like solar and wind by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040. After that, the state’s remaining electricity would come only from non-carbon-emitting sources, such as battery storage systems or natural gas generation equipped with carbon sequestration technology.

The bill also includes a new financial mechanism known as “securitization” to help Public Service Co. of New Mexico cover the costs for shutting down the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington by 2022 and pulling out of the nearby Four Corners Power Plant by 2031. Under securitization, PNM would be authorized to sell AAA-rated bonds to recover its lost, or “stranded,” investments in the coal plants, which consumers would repay through a surcharge on their bills.

The bill is supported by a broad coalition of mainstream environmental organizations, and by PNM, the state’s largest utility. It is priority legislation for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who campaigned on promises for a clean energy economy, and for many of the legislators in the Democratic majority that controls both the House and Senate.

Still, the bill drew sharp criticism from San Juan County and city of Farmington officials who want to keep San Juan running after 2022, when PNM and other plant co-owners abandon the facility. Farmington is now negotiating with a New York investor, Acme Equities LLC, to take over San Juan and install carbon capture and sequestration technology. To help facilitate that deal, Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, proposed an amendment in the Corporations Committee to delay new emissions standards contained in SB 489 until 2030 to allow Acme time to first upgrade San Juan with new carbon controls. But the committee rejected Sharer’s amendment in a 5-3 vote.

More: Senate committee passes bill to eliminate carbon-based energy

 

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