Utility wins, for now, in bid to delay filing for San Juan Generating Station abandonment
FARMINGTON — The majority owner of the San Juan Generating Station won a victory in the Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico when the court stayed an order by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission requiring the firm to file a detailed application for abandonment of the San Juan Generating Station by Friday.
The Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) petitioned the court on Wednesday, stating there wasn’t enough time to gather the needed information, and that the PRC was overstepping its legal boundaries and taking an action that infringes on the state Legislature’s authority.
Its court filing included PNM’s argument that an abandonment must be a voluntary action, and the PRC can’t legally compel the utility to file the application.
Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura, with Justices Barbara J. Vigil and Michael E. Vigil concurring, issued an emergency stay Friday and sought legal responses by March 19.
PNM spokesman Raymond Sandoval told The Daily Times that the court will receive responses in written form and determine whether oral arguments are appropriate.
“That’s not unusual,” Sandoval said.
Albuquerque-based PNM serves 525,000 customers in communities across New Mexico and is the state’s largest electric utility. Through public statements and an ad campaign, the utility remains adamant that the station must close in 2022.
PNM's CEO will cut ties with SJGS
PNM representatives would not comment Friday on the city of Farmington’s bid to take over the generating station and give it to an investor to run, but PNM's CEO, Pat Vincent-Collawn, was quoted by the Energy and Policy Institute in a Feb. 28 blog post as stating that PNM will not buy any power from the generating station if another party takes it over.
“So regardless of what theoretically has been proposed by Farmington, from our view we’re exiting San Juan, and we’ll replace the power accordingly to meet the objectives of — hopefully supporting the energy transition activities in past,” Vincent-Collawn said in the blog post. “But we will in no way accept any sort of PPA or any continued involvement after 2022 for San Juan.”
On Friday PNM officials were focused on the Supreme Court order.
“PNM is pleased with the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision to grant our requested stay of the Public Regulation Commission’s order on San Juan Generating Station abandonment,” the company said Friday in a prepared statement. “The stay keeps our legislature, our new governor, and our company on a continued path to carefully and thoughtfully plan for this important transition to a cleaner energy future for the state.”
On Wednesday, PNM said in a release that “the Energy Transition Act, the Renewable Portfolio Standard, Community Solar and Local Choice legislation” are among the factors that will impact the future of the San Juan Generating Station and the state’s energy policies.
Among the requirements of the abandonment application is a study of what energy sources would replace power generated by the station if it is closed.
“Some of these policies will directly impact how the San Juan Generating Station will be abandoned and what the replacement resources must be,” the utility said in the Wednesday release.
A company administrator argued that it is up to the New Mexico Legislature to set energy policy, not the PRC.
“As a state, we all must be diligent in how we address our energy future and work together to be good environmental and community stewards. Our responsibility to our customers and this state includes reflecting the mandates and the goals of new policies that have yet to be decided in this legislative session,” PNM Senior Vice President of Public Policy Ron Darnell said in the release.
Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at email@example.com.