Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) said it plans to appeal to the New Mexico Supreme Court the decision earlier this month by state regulators that denied the utility’s bid to exit its interest in the Four Corners Power Plant.
The utility said it filed its notice in accord with the Energy Transition Act, New Mexico’s energy policy designed to transition the state to clean energy. Under the act, an appeal must be filed within 10 days of a decision by the New Mexico Public Utilities Commission.
Following its Notice of Appeal, PNM must file a Statement of Issues outlining its arguments for appeal within 30 days.
In mid-December, regulators voted 5-0 to deny PNM’s bid to exit the coal-fired power plant. The Commission said the utility had failed to identify adequate potential new resources sufficient to serve retail customers.
The utility filed its application for abandonment and securitization with the regulatory commission in January. One month later, a Hearing Examiner found the application was insufficient and laid out requirements for an amended application. The Commission’s December 15 order further modified the requirements and called for new information regarding proposed replacement power resources.
In a statement following the Commission’s decision, the utility said it was “deeply disappointed” that regulators rejected what it called a “coal-free PNM at the earliest date possible.” It said regulators ignored the Energy Transition Act’s “careful balancing” of shareholder responsibility, customer savings, economic aid and “significant” environmental benefits.
Commission staff argued that the utility had already needed to brief regulators on construction delays related to replacement resources for the San Juan Generation Station. It said that “given the difficulties in constructing resources approved well over a year ago, it would be irresponsible for the Commission to authorize PNM to abandon its interest” in the Four Corners Power Plant without “full confidence” that adequate service could be maintained.
It said, “Self-serving assurances by PNM’s witness without any supporting facts cannot justify the Commission accepting this risk.”
Staff also argued that abandoning the power plant would not shutter the plant. Instead, the plan involved PNM’s transferring its interest in the plant to Navajo Transitional Energy Co. Staff said that plan would not accelerate eliminating coal-fired generation in New Mexico.
The Four Corners Generating Station originally included five units with a total rated generating capacity of about 2,040 MW. Units 1, 2, and 3 were shut down in 2014 as part of a $182 million plan for Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) to meet environmental regulations. Those units had a combined generating capacity of 560 MW. Units 4 and 5 each have a generating capacity of 770 MW. Units 1, 2 and 3 opened in 1963–64; Units 4 and 5 opened in 1969–70.
APS owned 100% of Units 1, 2, and 3. Units 4 and 5 are operated by APS but owned by a handful of companies, including Public Service Company of New Mexico. The plant burns sub-bituminous coal delivered from the nearby Navajo Coal Mine by the Navajo Mine Railroad.
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