Property taxes could increase if generating station closes

PNM files response to protests with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The San Juan Generating Station, as seen Monday August 1, 2016, in Waterflow.
  • People who live within the CCSD boundaries could see a four mil increase in property taxes, according to Four Corners Economic Development official
  • PNM says it will consider impacts to the community while evaluating whether or not to close the generating station.

AZTEC — San Juan County residents will see property tax rates increase if the San Juan Generating Station closes in 2022, according to Alicia Corbell, director of retention and expansion for Four Corners Economic Development.

Public Service Company of New Mexico, which is the majority owner in the power plant, released a plan earlier this year that included the closure of the generating station in 2022.

During a San Juan County Commission meeting on Tuesday, Corbell highlighted the impacts the closure would have on the local community.

Between the closure of the San Juan Generating Station and the mine that supplies it with coal, there will be a loss of $9.6 million in property taxes, or about 10 percent of the property tax base. The county receives $3.4 million of the property tax and an increase of one mil will be needed to make up the difference, Corbell said.

Central Consolidated School District receives $3.7 million in property tax from the generating station and mine. Corbell said people who live in CCSD boundaries will likely see a four mil increase in property tax to service the existing bonds. At the same time, the loss of jobs could cause people to leave the area. Four Corners Economic Development estimates more than 1,500 jobs will be lost.

Corbell said the district receives funding from the state based on the number of children enrolled in school. The loss of families with children in CCSD schools could cause the district to lose up to $3.5 million in state funding. CCSD superintendent Colleen Bowman is scheduled to attend a Kirtland Town Council meeting at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 12 to discuss what will happen if the generating station closes.

The economic impact of closing the generating station and the mine led state Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, Sen. Steve Neville, R-Farmington, Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, Rep. James Strickler, R-Farmington, Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, and Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, to file a written protest to PNM's integrated resource plan with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

In their protest, they said PNM's plan fails to account for several factors, including the loss of jobs, cost for reclaiming the abandoned generating station, the impact to state and local revenues from loss of taxes and the advantages of diverse energy portfolios.

"The magnitude of harm the elimination of these jobs would cause to the Four Corners region cannot be overstated – the equivalent in Bernalillo County would be the loss of the Kirtland Air Force Base or Sandia labs," the protest reads. "At a time when more than 6,000 high-paying oil industry jobs have disappeared along with nearly 14,000 residents, San Juan County would be devastated by the loss of more economic base jobs."

PNM filed a response to the various written protests, including the legislators' protest, last week.

In its response, PNM acknowledged that closing the generating station could adversely impact San Juan County. The company said these impacts will be considered as PNM evaluates its next steps.

"Acceptance of an IRP neither permits nor requires PNM to close SJGS in 2022 or take other actions set forth in the IRP," the response states.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

The San Juan Generating Station is pictured in Waterflow.
The San Juan Generating Station is seen on Nov. 6, 2013, in Waterflow.
San Juan Generating Station is pictured, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016 in Waterflow.