For Immediate Release
Washington DC: 202-547-1141
San Francisco: 415-977-5500
1,300+ New Mexicans Urge PRC To Protect Families From PNM’s Dirty, Expensive Coal Plant Plans
ALBUQUERQUE - Over 1,300 New Mexico residents have sent petitions to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) urging them to protect ratepayers by rejecting PNM’s proposal to continue burning coal at the San Juan Generating Station, according to figures released today by the Sierra Club. PNM’s current plans would extend the utility’s commitment to the San Juan Generating Station coal plant, thereby threatening the health and financial security of New Mexico families. The announcement comes as the PRC is set to hold a hearing on PNM’s risky proposal on Wednesday night from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the African American Performing Arts Center in Albuquerque.
"There are moral and ethical issues involved in where we get our energy. The direct links to economic justice, care of creation, and health of future generations, mean that people of faith must pay careful attention to energy issues," said the Rev. Dr. McNiel, Executive Director of New Mexico Conference of Churches and Advisory Board Member for New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light. "We must move to more renewable energy sources in order to reduce the economic and health consequences of power consumption. Our brothers and sisters who are economically poor and live in the shadows of coal fired power plants suffer the most here in New Mexico and around the world. PNM's plans to continue burning coal will only continue to threaten them, and that is immoral."
Support for continued burning of coal at the San Juan Generating Station has fallen as admissions by the company have revealed serious financial risks for the future of the plant, including the uncertainty of where the plant will get its coal after 2017 Last month, the home city of the plant, Farmington, New Mexico, announced it would not acquire an increased stake in the plant due to reliability concerns and the huge costs that would be passed on to the community. Other New Mexico stakeholders have also pulled away from an agreement that would continue PNM’s use of coal at the plant, citing the overall uncertainty about San Juan’s operations.
In addition, PNM announced that due to a cost accounting error, the total bill for their plan to increase reliance on dirty coal and other expensive fuels had jumped by over $1 billion, with those costs likely being passed onto local ratepayers. This comes just weeks after PNM introduced a rate proposal that if approved would result in nearly a $10 month increase to the average residential home bill due to utility’s plans to continue burning coal at the plant for the foreseeable future.
“Given the deficiencies of PNM’s current plan, PRC must deny the current proposal,” said Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico Energy Coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance. “PNM’s investment in coal and nuclear is an affront to New Mexico’s future.”
In addition to urging the PRC to protect New Mexico ratepayers from PNM’s dangerous proposal, over 200 Santa Fe residents called on the PRC to hold additional hearings in Santa Fe on the plan. The PRC concluded hearings in Santa Fe on PNM’s proposal in January, which generated strong opposition from New Mexico faith leaders, public health groups, clean energy advocates, environmental organizations, and more. Many residents, including local faith leaders, were denied the opportunity to speak at the hearings.
With so much at stake, including the financial security of ratepayers who would be threatened by PNM’s $1 billion deal, Santa Fe residents, including pastors, moms and dads, teachers, doctors, and ratepayers throughout the community deserve the right to have their voices heard on this critical issue,” said Nellis Kennedy-Howard, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.