NM Coal Plant Shutting Down 2 Units

Monday, December 21, 2015 @ 04:12 PM gHale

San Juan Generating Station in Farmington, NM, will continue operating the coal-fired plant, but only after shutting down 2 of generating units.

The final Public Regulation Commission (PRC) vote on the plan — a compromise that will bring the coal-fired power plant into compliance with federal haze regulations by shutting down two of its four generating units — ended an often contentious and controversial two-year case before state regulators.

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Commissioner Valerie Espinoza, who voted against the plan, said the it would likely hurt ratepayers and voiced concerns over the continued use of coal and replacing lost power generation at the plant with 134 megawatts of nuclear power.

“I don’t believe that more coal or nuclear is the best alternative,” Espinoza said.

The Public Service Company of New Mexico plan will replace the lost generating capacity from the shutdown of the two units — representing 800 megawatts of power — at the Waterflow plant by Dec. 31. 2017.

That power will end up provided by additional coal-generated power from another unit at the plant, power from a proposed natural-gas plant, nuclear power from the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona and a small amount of renewable power from wind and solar sources.

The remaining units at the plant are currently undergoing a retrofit with selective non-catalytic reduction, or SNCR, technology, which reduces nitrogen oxide emissions that contribute to haze.

The compromise came about after PNM officials said complying with federal Clean Air Act regulations would be too expensive and cause the plant’s closure. PNM is the majority owner at the generating station.