SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s largest utility says it will stop using coal as a power source in 2031, despite a move by the Trump administration to make it easier for coal-fired power plants to operate by repealing a federal policy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said this week it intends to dismantle the Clean Power Plan that set state-specific limits for the emissions that contribute to global warming. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the Obama-era policy set standards that coal and natural gas plants could not reasonably meet.
Regardless, the Public Service Co. of New Mexico said it will continue its efforts to comply with the Clean Power Plan, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported (http://bit.ly/2yfEeBj ). The company uses coal for 56 percent of its energy generation. That would drop to at least 12 percent by 2025 with a decreased reliance on coal, PNM said.
PNM operates the San Juan Generating Station and partially owns the Four Corners Power Plant, two coal-fired facilities in northwestern New Mexico. Company spokesman Ray Sandoval said the utility doesn’t anticipate any changes to its plans, but he noted it’s still awaiting approval from the state Public Regulation Commission to retire the coal assets.
“The actions we have planned represent the most cost-effective ways to serve our customers with reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy,” Sandoval said.
The U.S. Supreme Court had put the Clean Power Plan on hold last year following legal challenges by industry and coal-friendly states. Even so, utilities increasingly moved away from coal in favor of renewables and cheaper prices for natural gas.
PNM already agreed to shut down two of the four units at the San Juan Generating Station under a separate EPA rule targeting haze-causing nitrogen oxide emissions and install pollution controls on existing units by the end of this year. The facility is expected to close by 2022.
PNM expects to drop ownership in the Four Corners plant in 2031.
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com