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"Rally For Renewables" at PNM Shareholders Meeting

PHOTO: Conservation advocates are planning to "Rally for Renewables" at the PNM shareholders meeting in Albuquerque on Thursday. Photo courtesy U.S. Energy Department.
PHOTO: Conservation advocates are planning to "Rally for Renewables" at the PNM shareholders meeting in Albuquerque on Thursday. Photo courtesy U.S. Energy Department.
May 14, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Conservation advocates plan to rally Thursday in Albuquerque as part of their effort to encourage Public Service Co. of New Mexico to use more wind and solar power, as the utility retires two coal units at the San Juan Generating Station in the Four Corners area.

Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, said she hopes PNM customers will attend the "Rally for Renewables" at the company's shareholders meeting. She said the goal is to urge the state's largest electricity provider to choose clean, renewable energy over coal and nuclear power.

"We would like to see them investing in new solar and new wind - sources of energy that are free to the public and that don't have those externalized health costs that put mercury into our water and fish, and polluting particulate matter that cause asthma for our kids and families," she said.

Feibelman said coal energy can look cheap on paper, because the cost doesn't include the full economic impact on society in terms of illness, medical expenses and lost work days linked to coal pollution.

Feibelman said the rally also is meant to encourage the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to support greater use of wind and solar energy by utilities in the state. She said the cost of building clean-energy infrastructure has dropped enough in recent years that it is now an affordable option for utilities.

"Wind and solar from a technological standpoint are becoming more and more cheap," she said. "It's a free resource. The wind blows, the sun shines. So, especially in New Mexico, we need to take advantage of that."

According to PNM, by the end of this year it will have invested almost $200 million in solar capacity, enough to power more than 23,000 homes. The utility serves 500,000 business and residential customers.

The "Rally for Renewables" starts at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at the PNM Building, 414 Silver Ave. SW., Unit 4.

Statistics from PNM are at pnm.com.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM