Climate Scientists Tell Us We Have One Generation to Transition
Climate scientists tell us that if we stay on our current course we will see global temperatures rise up to 4°C by the end of the century.
The results, they warn will be catastrophic climate disruption including widespread drought, flooding, and massive population displacement caused by rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and the spread of disease and hunger. In order to mitigate these events, we need to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees C. This requires that global greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2015 and from there go down to zero.
With a shift to a clean-energy economy, we can still create the sustainable and prosperous future we all want. But we have to act now.
The transition to a clean energy economy requires that we actively resist further investment in fossil fuel and demand the full cost accounting of risky and dirty energy industries. We have an unprecedented opportunity to reduce our dependence on coal power in New Mexico by replacing San Juan Units 2& 3 (being retired early in order to meet Regional Clean Air requirements) with renewable energy. Unfortunately PNM's replacement power proposal seeks to replace the coal capacity by purchasing more coal shares from the remaining units, importing nuclear from their merchant plant in Arizona, and building a new natural gas plant.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE REPLACEMENT POWER CASE AND HOW WE CAN CHOOSE CLEAN, AFFORDABLE RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR NEW MEXICO
THE COST OF COAL
Coal fired power plants are the number one driver of climate disruption. A third of all carbon dioxide emissions come from burning coal. It's used to produce nearly 40 percent of the world’s power, and hundreds of new coal plants are planned over the next years if the industry gets its way.
In New Mexico, nearly 60% of energy comes from coal. The vast majority of our coal power comes from the San Juan Coal Plant (pictured above) which is located in the northwestern part of the state.
PNM’s San Juan Generating Station is the largest polluter in New Mexico – responsible for over 60,000 air quality violations and more than 12 million tons of carbon dioxide, 17,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, 4,000 tons of sulfur dioxides, and many pounds of mercury emissions per year. The plant also consumes more than 6 billion gallons of clean water per year (11,000 gallons a minute) and has been identified as the primary cause of mercury contamination found in all of New Mexico’s waterways. To assess the health impacts of coal on the state’s population, New Energy Economy commissioned a 2012 analysis by the New York University School of Medicine which found that over the last 5 years, PNM’s failure to comply with necessary pollution reductions at the San Juan Generating Station have cost the public $240 million in total health care costs, including asthma (1 in 4 high school students in the state), lung disease, heart disease, and hospitalizations. Native American and other historically marginalized communities located near the San Juan Generating Station bear the brunt of these health costs.
Coal is actually now more expensive per kilowatt hour in New Mexico than both wind and solar. Coal dependence also exposes rate-payers to considerable financial and environmental liabilities. Coal fuel prices are rising, carbon and coal ash regulations set to come online in the next few years will increase the costs of coal plants, and the decommissioning costs (cleanup and restoration when plants are retired) are in the 100s of millions of dollars. All of these costs are passed along to rate-payers and lead to higher rates.
THE COST OF NUCLEAR
Nuclear is one of the most expensive forms of electricity - costing almost double the price of wind per kilowatt hour. And though proponents taut it as a carbon-free energy source, uranium mining and nuclear waste have had devastating environmental and health impacts in New Mexico - disproportionately impacting Native communities.
Currently, New Mexico gets 21% of its energy from nuclear. If PNM wins its replacement power proposal, the nuclear energy from their merchant plant in Arizona will come into rates, growing the percentage of our electricity from nuclear to 31%.