New Mexico Supreme Court rules that Energy Transition Act applies to PNM’s San Juan Generating Station filing

Published on January 31, 2020 by Kevin Randolph

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The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) must apply the Energy Transition Act (ETA) to PNM’s application for closing the San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired plant near Farmington, N.M.

In its ruling, the Court granted a joint Emergency Verified Petition from New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives Brian Egolf and other New Mexico lawmakers to provide clarification about the applicability of the ETA to the PNM application and grant a writ of mandamus requiring the NMPRC to apply the law to PNM’s case.

The lawmakers filed the petition following a decision by the NMPRC to combine the abandonment portion of PNM’s plan with an earlier case related to the decommissioning of two of the four generating units. The NMPRC’s decision brought into question the applicability of the ETA to PNM’s proposal and how PNM could recover costs associated with shutting down the plant. Under the ETA, PNM could recover the costs through bonds and rate increases to customers.

In its ruling, the Court also required that any prior NMPRC orders inconsistent with Wednesday’s order be vacated. It also denied the request for a stay of the case.

“We applaud the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision in applying the Energy Transition Act,” Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources’ chairman, president and CEO, said. “This ruling positively impacts the people of New Mexico. We also recognize the passion and commitment that all sides share in this journey to a clean and just energy future. This decision affects us all, and by working together, we can achieve our state’s goal of 100 percent emissions-free.”

The ETA became effective in June 2019, approximately one month before PNM filed its application to close the San Juan Generating Station. The law sets goals of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, provides economic relief for communities affected by coal plant closures and provides renewable energy job training for workers.

The NMPRC is expected to issue a final order on the abandonment and securitization portion of PNM’s filing by April 1, 2020.