The below article is by Hannah Grover of The Farmington Daily Times PNM must answer questions about March silo collapse
AZTEC — The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission unanimously approved an order giving Public Service Company of New Mexico 13 days to respond to questions about the structural failure that caused a small explosion in unit 1 of the San Juan Generating Station on March 17.
The PRC met today in Santa Fe. The meeting was streamed live online. The PRC is asking PNM for information about the cause of the structural failure and subsequent explosion. The inquiry comes following a petition filed on April 12 by nine advocacy groups spearheaded by New Energy Economy.
The explosion caused PNM to temporarily shut down unit 1. A PNM spokesperson has previously told The Daily Times that the unit should be functioning again by June 15 and that the company's insurance will cover the bulk of the cost of the repairs.
The petition asked the PRC to investigate the cause of the structural collapse and to prevent PNM from repairing the unit to bring it back online without first looking at other generating sources and doing a cost-benefit analysis. It cites PNM's integrated resource plan, which calls for closing the generating station in 2022.
The order issued Wednesday asks PNM to respond to the petition's request for a cost-benefit analysis and assessment of other energy generation options to replace unit 1.
Mariel Nanasi, the executive director of New Energy Economy, said in an email statement wind and solar energy storage are less expensive than coal.
"It is only common sense that the PRC require PNM to answer why there is a business case for continuing to operate climate-altering coal when energy on the open market is cheaper," she said. "Maybe it is a good fortune for ratepayers that Unit 1 is inoperable today and will close early: we can reduce the cost of electricity and save on health care costs."
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.