Agreement between Enchant Energy, Westmoreland another step in keeping power plant open

The Daily Times staff

FARMINGTON — A memorandum of understanding between Enchant Energy and Westmoreland Mining Holdings LLC has been signed that will define how the two parties enter into a coal supply agreement as part of the effort to add a planned carbon-capture component to the San Juan Generating Station.

The MOU was announced Jan. 30 by officials at Enchant Energy and the City of Farmington. The two entities are partnering to acquire a 95 percent ownership stake in the power plant when all the other current owners, aside from the City of Farmington, exit the plant in 2022.

The current majority owner is the Public Service Company of New Mexico, which has announced plans to abandon the plant in two years.

In an effort to keep the plant operating, Enchant is working on a plan to capture and sequester at least 90 percent of the post-combustion carbon dioxide it produces. Enchant and Farmington officials hope to be able to produce low emissions and affordable power while keeping the plant open past its planned closing date in 2022, avoiding the potential loss of hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the region.

MORE:New Mexico Tech seeks funding to study carbon storage near San Juan Generating Station

In a statement, Peter Mandelstam, chief operating officer at Enchant, hailed the signing of the agreement that was announced Jan. 30.

"Westmoreland's coal mine adjacent to SJGS has coal reserves sufficiently advanced through environmental, regulatory and permitting approvals to enable the mining and supply of coal to Enchant Energy required for the project," he stated in the press release. "We look forward to working on the details of a mutually beneficial CSA."

Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett said in a statement the signing of the MOU represents a step toward securing a long-term coal supply for the plant.

"Enchant Energy continues to make progress on the key strategic issues necessary to add carbon capture technology to SJGS and keep the plant operating, thus saving 1,600 direct and indirect jobs, preserving tax revenues that support education, and making it the nation's cleanest-burning coal-fired facility," he said.