Bills provide options for transferring ownership of power plant, requiring the PRC to consider the economic impacts of shuttering generating stations

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FARMINGTON — Local legislators have introduced bills aimed at saving jobs and tax base at the San Juan Generating Station.

State Sen. Steve Neville, R-Farmington, and Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, have filed bills addressing public utilities. 

New Mexico legislators are allowed to start filing bills in mid-December leading up to the regular legislative session, which starts in January. The time to pre-file bills will end Jan. 12 and the legislative session will begin Jan. 16.

Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Neville, and House Bill 73, sponsored by Bandy, would both require the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to consider the economic impacts of closing a public utility facility.

Earlier this year, Public Service Company of New Mexico, which is the majority owner of the San Juan Generating Station, filed an integrated resource plan that calls for closing the coal-fired power plant in 2022.

When reached by phone Friday, Neville said PNM did not include analysis of the economic impact of closing the power plant.

Neville and Bandy say closing the power plant could have a dramatic negative impact on San Juan County's economy due to a loss of jobs and an increase in property tax.

Neville said the San Juan Generating Station is one of the county's major sources of property taxes.

"When you don't have it anymore, it can really shift your tax burden," Neville said.

Senate Bill 12, sponsored by Neville, and House Bill 72, sponsored by Bandy, would allow a public utility that intends to close a coal-fired power plant to convey the title to another entity for $1 without needing PRC approval, if the other entity will use at least part of the plant's infrastructure to produce energy.

"We would like to see the plant continue to operate in some form," Bandy said.

He said this could be production of geothermal energy, natural gas power or continued coal-fired power production.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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