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Coalition of environmental advocates seeks to unseal testimony in PNM case

The coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington in 2009. State regulators are considering a plan by Public Service Co. of New Mexico to close two units at the power plant and replace the power with a mix of coal, nuclear, natural gas and solar energy. Associated Press file photo

Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 8:00 pm | Updated: 10:48 pm, Tue Mar 17, 2015.

By Staci Matlock The New Mexican

The Coalition for Clean, Affordable Energy — one of several groups involved in a case regarding PNM’s plan to retire half of a coal-fired power plant and replace the energy with other sources — asked state regulators Monday to unseal some confidential information in the case and make it available to the public.

A year ago, the groups involved in the case agreed to keep confidential much of the testimony and evidence on Public Service Company of New Mexico’s plan to close two of four units of the San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico. But the coalition of nonprofit environmental and renewable energy advocates now is asking the Public Regulation Commission to unseal testimony regarding how PNM’s plans will affect jobs in the Farmington areas.

A meeting was held in Farmington on March 4 to discuss the plan to shutter two units at the plant and replace the coal power with nuclear, solar and natural gas power — as well as additional coal power from one of the other units. It drew more than 250 people. A PRC news release about the meeting noted that public officials in the area believe that if PNM’s plan to use additional coal capacity at the San Juan plant is denied by state regulators, the area will lose $88 million in payroll and 850 jobs, the coalition said. The news release also said a denial of the plan will increase the cost of power.

The coalition’s motion says that “the information and portions of exhibits that the coalition seeks to have designated as public would provide the public a more accurate and complete understanding of the current and future job situation at San Juan Generating Station and the San Juan [copper] Mine.”

Without the information, the coalition said, “the public will have an incomplete and erroneous understanding of the impact that granting or denying” PNM’s request for more coal capacity on the San Juan plant will have on jobs.

“The importance of the outcome of this proceeding certainly outweighs PNM’s need — whatever that may be — to maintain the confidentiality of the information,” the motion says.

A PRC hearing examiner will decide if the information will be unsealed.

Contact Staci Matlock at 986-3055 or Follow her on Twitter @StaciMatlock.


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