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1500 jobs (and carbon compromise) victims in MLG's holy climate war

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

By: Senator Bill Sharer (District 1- Farmington)

September 30, 2022, does not have to be the end of the San Juan Generating Station.

We can mitigate the station’s environmental impact, save the Central Consolidated School District, and keep hundreds of families employed. That is not even considering preventing blackouts and brownouts or saving PNM customers from the impending rate hike.

Since Governor Lujan Grisham signed the “Energy Transition Act” mandating the closure of the plant, we have offered a simple solution: use carbon capture and sequestration to avert the colossal impact the closure will have on my community.

Enchant Energy stands ready to build a state-of-the-art facility that removes 95% of the CO2 generated by the power plant. Today, every other pollutant is already captured and kept out of the environment. We could have had the cleanest coal-firedpower plant in the world.

Instead, the Governor’s political allies came in and disparaged the solution. They called carbon capture “non-viable” and called Enchant “investors with no experience.”

Today, instead of a state-of-the-art facility, we have a ghost town.

PNM promised to blunt the blow to our community.

They claimed they would provide job training to plant employees to transition to the “clean” economy (apparently cleanest in the world is not clean enough). They claimed they would provide green investments into San Juan County to offset the revenue hit to the school district. They promised the transition would have no real impact on customer rates or energy reliability.

For those claims, I can only assume the ‘P’ in PNM stands for Pinocchio.

PNM’s job training program was funded one week before the plant closed, hardly enough time to spin up a new program, train hundreds of people, and transition them into new jobs.Especially when that “green” infrastructure is far from shovel-ready. As for the last claim regarding the impact on rates, you can fact-check that the next time you get your electricity bill.

PNM has failed at every level. The Governor’s obsession with her climate warrior credentials kept her from working with the private sector and PNM to find a real solution for our community. For all of her talk of equity, she failed to accept a solution that would have saved our predominantly Navajo community.

A real solution is still possible for the San Juan Generating Station. We can still hit the reset button. With the stroke of a pen, the Governor can give the two years we lost to COVID back to PNM and the private sector to set up the appropriate infrastructure. Better yet, we can decide we want to lead the way in clean carbon capture and save our community.

The hundreds of workers and thousands who are impacted by this plant’s closure still stand ready to operate it. Our schools still need funding. Our families still need reliable and affordable energy. There is still a win-win-win solution on the table, and Governor Lujan Grisham holds the keys.

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