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As renewable energy and natural gas costs decline, it's harder to justify coal energy. Many utilities also are closing coal-generation plants in Indiana and elsewhere. Dwight Adams, dwight.adams@indystar.com

Enchant Energy CEO calls results 'significant milestone'

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FARMINGTON — A company working with the city of Farmington to acquire a 95 percent ownership stake in the San Juan Generating Station is hailing a recently released engineering report that touts the affordability of a plan to employ carbon capture and storage technology to keep the plant operating.

Enchant Energy Corporation officials posted a link to the report on the company website and issued a press release about it on July 8, with CEO Jason Selch touting its findings. The Sargent & Lundy report was released June 27 and estimates the cost of CO2 capture at between $39 and $43 per metric ton — figures that it claims are significantly lower than a previous carbon capture retrofit at a Texas facility.

"The results of this study are a significant milestone towards successful implementation of our project and the numerous positive benefits that we envision will follow," he stated. "This project will demonstrate that it is possible to comply with stringent CO2 emissions standards for electricity generation using carbon capture utilization and storage technology while providing high-paying jobs and maintaining state and local taxes that are so vital to the northwest region of New Mexico."

The Enchant Energy press release says the cost estimates cited in the S&L report mean that the estimated $1.3 billion cost to retrofit the San Juan Generating Station can be financed entirely with federal tax credits and will not require additional operating costs at the facility.

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Related: PNM proposes plan to move toward renewable energy sources, close SJGS

The San Juan Generating Station's current majority owner, the Public Service Company of New Mexico, has announced plans to close and abandon the coal-fired plant by 2022 as part of a plan to increase its power generation from renewable sources. Farmington officials are worried that plan will have a devastating effect on the local economy, and they have been working with Enchant Energy officials to find a way to keep the plant operating beyond that point.

The S&L study states the planned retrofit at the plant would capture 6 million metric tons of CO2 per year, decreasing its emission intensity from 2,201 pounds per megawatt hour to 249 pounds per megawatt hour – a decrease of approximately 90 percent. That figure would meet the CO2 emission standard included in the recently enacted New Mexico Energy Transition Act, according to the Enchant Energy press release.

The captured CO2 would be compressed and transported via pipeline to a storage facility in the Permian Basin.

Enchant Energy officials say the planned retrofit would allow the San Juan Generating Station to operate economically beyond its planned closure date of June 30, 2022, a move that would save more than 400 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs in San Juan County while continuing to provide power to customers at no additional cost.

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