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New Mexico Legislators Hope to Jump-Start San Juan Generating Station

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The San Juan Generating Station in northern New Mexico closed two of its four units last week as part of a long-term plan to comply with federal regulations. However, the Farmington Daily-Times reports that two state legislators have “pre-filed” bills in advance of the coming session that would require the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to take into account economic impacts when the closure of a public utility facility is proposed. The San Juan Generating Station is an 1800-megawatt coal-fired power plant sitting 15 miles west of Farmington. It has long been considered one of the nation’s top polluters. In 2015, the plant’s operators agreed to close two units to comply with haze regulations under the Clean Air Act. The station is planning to shut down the two remaining units by 2022 because other power sources are more economical than coal. However, the Daily-Times reports local leaders have expressed concern about the impacts of the plant’s closure on property taxes and jobs. The bills filed by State Senator Steve Neville of Farmington and State Representative Paul Bandy of Aztec, both Republicans, would make it easier for any public utility planning to shutter a coal-fired power plant to convey the title to another entity for a minimal cost, if that new owner promises to use at least part of the plant to produce electricity from some source.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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