The much-ballyhooed Energy Transition Act, championed by an extremist legislature and signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2019, compelled the closure of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station.
Within a week of that closure, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) announced a power outage affecting over 3,000 customers. While PNM reports that power was restored before 10:00 am, are these outages indicative of the ominous rolling blackouts to come?
On PNM’s outage information page, common causes of power outages are listed as public works, animals in the system, extreme weather, vandalism and theft, branches in powerlines, and vehicle collisions. Decidedly absent is any reference to short-sided decision-making regarding offlining power production before alternate sources were online to supplement the baseload.
Enchant Energy sought to acquire the aging San Juan station before its retirement for an ambitious carbon sequestration project. Although an initial agreement was signed in 2017, the City of Farmington and other parties were unable to negotiate a good-faith transfer, leading to failed talks by August of this year.
Now that San Juan is shut down, PNM faces expiring leases from Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona and a total projected shortfall of about 450 megawatts during 2023 peak summer demand.
PNM Vice President of Generation Tom Fallgren told the Albuquerque Journal that it expects to procure the entire shortfall by year-end.
Nationally, the United States Department of Energy released a report just last month detailing that hundreds of coal power plant sites could be converted to nuclear power. The study investigated benefits and challenges, underscoring new jobs, increased economic benefits, and significant improvements to environmental conditions.
The study was conducted by Idaho National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory and was sponsored by DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy.
“As we move to a clean energy future, we need to deliver place-based solutions and ensure an equitable energy transition that does not leave communities behind,” said Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr. Kathryn Huff.
The Southwest Public Policy Institute proudly embraces nuclear energy options as clean energy alternatives. Nuclear power is cleaner, more reliable, and not intermittent like wind and solar.
Is it a coincidence that San Juan Generating Station closed and within a week PNM suffered an outage affecting over 3,000 people? Probably.
But the short-sighted Energy Transition Act is solely responsible for the hundreds of jobs that have been lost with the closure of the San Juan station. The whole situation is in an “inequitable energy transition” that has certainly left the community in Farmington behind.
This leaves the future of reliable energy production for the entire state in question.