Commentary: On Tuesday, several Public Regulation Commission members listened to comments from dozens of New Mexicans asking for a full transition away from dirty San Juan coal electricity to renewable energy.
Tuesday’s PRC hearing addressed what resources should replace the San Juan coal-fired electricity that PNM plans to stop using in 2022. The commission has separated that case from the one regarding whether it will allow PNM to exit the coal plant and how the exit will be financed.
New Mexicans from all over the state asked the commission to require 100% renewable replacement, rather than PNM’s preferred scenario, which includes building a new gas plant.
“Navajos have seen the wealth of our nation decline, while neighboring regions and states have benefitted from artificially cheap energy and water,” said Jessica Keetso of To Nizhoni Ani, which was formed in 2003 in response to Peabody Coal’s excessive use and waste of the only potable water source the Navajo people have on Black Mesa. “I come before you today to ask the PRC and the people of New Mexico, please go 100% renewables. It’s the only option to re-establish good-faith relations between states and tribes, it shows accountability on the part of this regulatory body and will begin to remediate the damage we as indigenous people have had to endure.”
“"We believe that the Energy Transition Act is the responsible way to transition to renewable energy,” said Native American Voters Alliance Executive Director Laurie Weahkee. “We’re specifically interested in solar and wind as a way to begin to heal our communities and heal ourselves going forward. I believe we should go beyond PNM’s four scenarios. PNM can do better than that."
“Sierra Club experts have analyzed and modeled the data and recommended two scenarios that rely solely on renewable energy and storage to replace the damaging coal electricity that San Juan produces,” said Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Director Camilla Feibelman. “These 100%-renewable plans are cost-effective and reliable.”
“I have read and heard recent information for a carbon capture sequestration technology proposed by Enchant Energy. Didn’t PNM look into this earlier and conclude it was not a feasible replacement power for SJGS?,” said Wendy Atcitty, a member of the Navajo tribe. “It is a model that is expensive to retrofit and unproven to the proposed size. It will use much power and water in an area of our state that is already limited in resources; proposing 90% carbon capture marks a ‘pie in the sky’ moment.”