The Real Cost of Pollution Controls for San Juan Generating Station?
August 9, 2011
FARMINGTON, N.N. - The San Juan Generating Station near Farmington was built nearly 40 years ago, and Friday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that the coal-fired plant should be retrofitted with new technology to reduce the smog and air pollution it emits. Plant co-owner PNM Resources contends the cost would be prohibitive, at a billion dollars.
David Van Winkle, energy chair for the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club, says the EPA's estimate for the retrofit is only $345 million.
"PNM talks about this billion-dollar cost, but the cost to New Mexicans is really more likely to be 160 million dollars. "
That figure represents the percentage of the plant PNM owns. Van Winkle says that, no matter what the cost, the company will likely ask for another rate increase.
"We've seen rate increases of 25 percent, and they currently have in front of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission another 20 percent rate increase. When you multiply those two together, you have a 50 percent increase in just a few years."
The company plans to appeal the ruling, saying the EPA bypassed an alternative technology approved by the state that would meet the same federal visibility rules for a tenth of the cost.
Van Winkle says if PNM is concerned about costs, it should also consider a transition to generating cleaner energy.