After three and a half hours of testimony, public comments and debate, including testimony on your behalf by CVNM Legislative Director Ben Shelton, the Senate Conservation Committee voted to table the Energy Redevelopment Bond Act (SB 47) on Saturday. Nearly 300 CVNM members and supporters like you spoke up in one day, stopping the bill in its tracks. Thanks to your voices, we have another opportunity to ensure that this bill is a great deal for New Mexicans.
Senate Bill 47 deals with the closure of the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) coal plant, which PNM has decided to close by 2022 because it can no longer turn a profit for them. Closing the nation’s most polluting coal plant is not only good for public health and our climate, it creates a huge opportunity to transition to clean energy in our state, generating the clean energy jobs and sustainable economic growth we need. After several weeks of discussions with PNM, we’re disappointed to report that PNM’s bill still doesn’t do enough to seize this opportunity, and that’s why we asked all senators on the committee to vote “no” on the bill.
During the lengthy hearing, several senators raised significant issues about the bill. The loudest concern raised was that the Farmington area where SJGS operates needs certainty about the plant so that the area will have some sense of what they’re dealing with in the aftermath of the plant closure. The people of San Juan County have worked for generations to provide energy for New Mexicans and we can’t leave them guessing.
At CVNM, it’s our job to work within the legislative process to bring your conservation values into debates about critical issues just like this one. That’s why, in partnership with our legislative champions, we’re continuing to work on this bill. We know that CVNM members like you have the highest expectations for our utilities, especially on an issue as important as closing the nation’s most polluting coal plant and what it means for our state’s energy future.
Over the course of the legislative session thus far, we have consistently brought three principles to the discussions about the bill. New Mexico needs:
- Opportunity for the development of a community-driven transition plan for the Four Corners area that will both diversify the local economy and ensure that the area isn’t left behind in the transition to a post-coal economy. The community needs the space and opportunity to determine their own solutions. The current version of this bill provides the money to start diversifying the area. We’ll work to make sure that a plan for that money follows that represents real transition for the Four Corners area.
- An open and transparent plan for transition to the clean, renewable energy future of New Mexico, with solutions that support a robust and independent renewable energy sector.
- The assurance that New Mexico ratepayers directly benefit from the significant savings of transitioning to a renewable energy economy, while guaranteeing that the Public Regulation Commission’s ability to hold PNM accountable remains intact.
Before Saturday, the bill did not reflect these values. Now that PNM and proponents of the bill know that we can defeat it, we have another opportunity to ensure this legislation builds a diverse and clean energy economy that looks like our values, supports our people and provides a hopeful future for our children. We’re continuing to work to see that in this bill because SB 47 is about our energy future. We’ll be at the table, fighting for our communities, as long as the legislature is considering this measure. With your support, we will remain vigilant on this bill.
While there has been much coverage of this issue and we are working very hard to make sure your values are reflected in these talks, it’s not the only conservation bill in this legislative session. We are always tracking legislation to determine its impact on our air, water, land and health. The deadline to file bills was on Jan. 31 so we have updated our full list of legislative priorities. Read the full list of bills we’re asking our senators and representatives to support or oppose on our website at www.CVNM.org. To get up to the minute information on our work at the Capitol, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.