(AP) Critics challenge costs of PNM plan to shutter part of a coal plant

August 2014

By Karen Montoya, Associated Press, Aug. 29, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — The state’s largest electric utility is underestimating the costs that will be passed on to customers under a proposal to shut down part of an aging coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico, according to a regulatory filing made Friday by renewable energy advocates.

The Santa Fe-based group New Energy Economy is accusing PNM of withholding from the Public Regulation Commission key information about the plan’s price tag.

The group contends PNM didn’t include more than a half-billion dollars of ongoing capital expenditures in the calculations and failed to weigh the costs of environmental regulations and the disposal of coal ash waste generated by the power plant.

“It’s about shifting these risks, whether it’s the environmental risks or decommissioning costs, from the shareholders to the ratepayers,” said Mariel Nanasi, executive director of New Energy Economy. “That’s really what this is all about. That’s why this is not just a climate issue. It’s an economic issue.”

New Energy Economy argues PNM’s plan to replace power lost by the shutdown relies too heavily on coal and natural gas, and not enough on alternative energies.

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