Well, the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) has finally set a date for a vote on PNM’s coal-and-nuclear heavy plan to replace retiring power from San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) — and the silence from Attorney General Hector Balderas is deafening.
Unlike most states, New Mexico is unique in that it entrusts the incredibly important role of consumer advocate in PRC proceedings to the Attorney General. Mr. Balderas has a great opportunity and a great responsibility to be a leader and advocate. He has not, to this point, been either of those.
There are vital conversations about the future of New Mexico’s energy portfolio and economy that ought to be at the center of the SJGS discussion, but aren’t. Here are two important issues that Attorney General Balderas has failed to bring up so far:
- The people who depend on SJGS for their employment deserve to know when it will shut down. Coal plants and mines are shutting down all across the country. SJGS is old and crumbling. Someone involved in the replacement power plan process needs to step up and demand a firm retirement date for the plant, so the people who depend on it aren’t left in the lurch when PNM decides the plant isn’t profitable any more. PNM needs to be pushed to make a real, honest commitment to ensuring the economic health of San Juan County in a post-SJGS world.
- The replacement power plan presents a great opportunity to take advantage of New Mexico’s considerable renewable energy potential, something that the current stipulation doesn’t do. The current plan (which Attorney General Balderas supports) calls for a paltry amount of renewable energy. In addition to helping us tackle climate change and protect our air at the same time, renewables have been proven to have a stabilizing effect on electricity rates.
- It’s time to make a real, honest commitment to ensuring the economic health of San Juan County in a post-SJGS world. Currently, PNM has spent $1 million on economic development and worker re-training in San Juan County. That’s embarrassing. PNM has made millions from SJGS. They owe the community a serious investment in workforce development and re-training so that the people who rely on the station have options when they need them.
From the beginning, this process has been begging for a strong voice advocating for New Mexico ratepayers and residents in San Juan County. Every single New Mexican is looking to the Attorney General to stand up for us, and so far we haven’t seen it. Mr. Balderas described PNM’s first plan as “not good enough.” That was a start, but when PNM came back with an even worse plan, not only did Mr. Balderas stop advocating for a better deal, he put his stamp of approval on a plan that reinvests New Mexico in dirty coal, and kept the people of San Juan County in the lurch. PRC commissioners need to hear a single, strong voice for New Mexico consumers, not just PNM lobbyists.
The final vote on PNM’s coal and nuclear replacement plan will take place December 16th. There’s still time for Attorney General Balderas to do the important work that the people of New Mexico have entrusted him to do. Call the Attorney General today and ask him to truly lead on this important decision. Click here for his phone number and talking points.>>