The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Kyle Tisdel, Western Environmental Law Center,
Thomas Singer, Western Environmental Law Center,
Robyn Jackson, Diné C.A.R.E.,
Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance,

New Mexico PRC Embraces 100% Renewable Future for Four Corners


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 Dine 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.

The Western Environmental Law Center uses the power of the law to safeguard the public lands, wildlife, and communities of the American West in the face of a changing climate. We envision a thriving, resilient West, abundant with protected public lands and wildlife, powered by clean energy, and defended by communities rooted in an ethic of conservation.

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