ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state's largest electric utility has a plan for replacing power that will be lost when it shutters two units at a coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico that's long been a target for environmentalists.
PNM filed its plan with state regulators late Friday. The utility also asked Public Regulation Commission for permission to recover costs associated with the partial closure and installing pollution control equipment on the remaining two units.
PNM and Gov. Susana Martinez's administration negotiated a compromise earlier this year calling for the partial closure and pollution controls. The plan needs to be approved by the commission and the EPA.
Federal regulators, the state, the utility and environmentalists have been fighting for years over the best way to reduce pollution at the plant amid concerns about increasing electric costs to customers.
PNM says the plan will cost less and result in greater environmental benefits than a proposal by federal regulators to install a different type of pollution control equipment. It says electricity generated by one of San Juan's other units, the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona and a new natural gas-fired plant would replace the lost power.
Critics, including environmental group New Energy Economy, argue that PNM's effort to recover its investment in the aging plant will ultimately end up costing customers through higher rates.
"They want ratepayers in New Mexico to pay for their losses. They want New Mexicans to pay for their poor financial and resource planning," said Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy's executive director.