Utility director speaks about future of power

Hannah Grover
Hank Adair, director of the Farmington Electric Utility System, is pictured at his office.

FARMINGTON — Farmington Electric Utility System Director Hank Adair sees the future of power generation and transmission changing rapidly over the next few years.

Adair was hired as the electric utility director in late September. He previously worked as an engineering manager at the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s San Juan Generating Station.

"After a thorough nation search and selection process, Hank Adair emerged as our clear top candidate," City Manager Rob Mayes said in a written statement. "He brings a wealth of tactical operational experience as a power plant engineer. I was also impressed with his strategic leadership abilities. This combination of tactical and strategic experience is the perfect balance we need to lead our electric utility into the future of this dramatically evolving industry."

Adair said he was excited to work in the utility and see the transmission side of the industry, as well as the power generation.

"Farmington is very unique in that it has all aspects that you would see in a utility," he said.

Adair expects to see a lot of changes in how power is produced, as well as the load that the utility will be required to transmit throughout the region.

"Utilities have to be very nimble," he said, citing quickly changing technology and the fluctuation in fuel prices.

Adair sees a lot of the future of electrical generation being driven by solar power.

"What are solar cars going to look like 10 years from now?" he said as one possibility that the utility will have to consider.

Adair said the utility is also looking at renewable energy.

"As a small utility, we don’t want to be on the leading edge, doing the first beta testing," he said, adding that the utility should be on the middle to leading edge.

The utility, which serves about 1,700 square miles, also is at the center of a lawsuit. Bloomfield sued the city of Farmington in an attempt to acquire the utility infrastructure located within Bloomfield city limits as part of an effort to put together its own power utility.

Adair, who lives in Bloomfield, said he is closely watching the lawsuit and waiting for the court’s decision. If the court does rule in Bloomfield’s favor, the city of Bloomfield could acquire the infrastructure at a price determined by the court.

That would mean decreasing the size of the utility, although Farmington would continue to transmit the power to Bloomfield, as it does to Aztec.

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