Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2015 9:00 pm
By Ann Alexander
The Public Regulation Commission should give serious consideration to the people of New Mexico who are concerned about our future. We care deeply about the economy, the health of our people and the eventual emergence from dependency on fossil fuels. Public Service Company of New Mexico’s proposal for supply of electricity with coal and nuclear power does not solve any of these issues and will simply postpone the transition to renewable energy sources that is urgently needed.
Here are the facts as I understand them:
Economy: The PRC is obliged to consider cost in its decision. The cost-effective solution is to shut down all the coal operations at the San Juan Generating Station and to replace them with renewable sources of energy. Although PNM’s plan may be slightly cheaper in the first five years, rejecting that proposal and switching to a combination of wind, solar and gas will cost less long-term.
Rooftop solar costs are currently on a par with other means of producing electricity, and its costs are decreasing while the cost of coal and nuclear power is projected to rise.
The financial risks of owning a deteriorating coal plant are huge, and being responsible for the risks inherent in owning an old nuclear power plant — radiation leaks, meltdown and eventual decommissioning — are frightening.
Jobs: Per unit of power produced, there would be more jobs in the renewable energy industry than in coal. It is true that jobs will be lost in the coal industry if the PNM proposal is not adopted, but working in a coal plant is dirty and unhealthy. The creation of jobs in the solar and wind industry can ultimately replace them.
Health: The health conditions in the Four Corners area are a serious threat to the local population because of emissions and consequent respiratory diseases.
Emerging from dependency on fossil fuels: Experts say that we could be 100 percent dependent on renewable energy by 2035. Other countries have shown us that it is possible to become much less dependent on fossil fuels. In New Mexico, we have ideal conditions for wind and especially solar generation of power. We should be forward-thinking, not simply going with the status quo.
I urge the PRC commissioners to have the courage, the vision and the leadership to do the right thing. Vote down PNM’s proposal.
Ann Alexander is a doctor, retired from the Indian Health Service, who is embarking with her husband Richard Khanlian on a partnership with Homewise to help fund solar installations. She also keeps busy with Santa Fe Community College classes, Renesan, the Santa Fe Symphony Chorus and Kitchen Angels.