September 23, 2023

San Juan Haze Plan Will Cost Ratepayers

Posted on 27. Jun, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Uncategorized

PNM has already invested $320,000 in environmental upgrades at the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS).  This upgrade, completed in 2009, has significantly reduced pollutants and improved visibility in the region by reducing haze-causing emissions like Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) by 44 percent, Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) by 71%, particulates by 72%, and mercury by an industry leading 99%.

But, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that’s just not enough to address visibility in Federal Class I parks and wildernesses.  Notice we’re talking about visibility and nothing more. The state of New Mexico, along with PNM, developed a plan for the installation of Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) that included Selective NonCatalytic Reduction (SNCR) technology.  The SNCR will further reduce emissions at SJGS and improve regional visibility with NOx reduced by an additional 20%.  This would be a total combined NOx reduction of 73% from 2006 levels.  The SO2 will additionally be reduced by 20%.  The State Implementation Plan (SIP) is estimated to cost $77 million or approximately $11 per household.

The EPA designed a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology plan that would cost from $870 million to $1.0 billion dollars to install, or approximately $85 per household with very little increase in reduction.  With computer generated modeling of how the two systems (the state’s recommended SNCR and the EPA’s recommended SCR technology) would affect visibility in the area, the unaided eye can detect no difference! The SIP was unanimously approved by the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) on 6/3/2011 after two days of hearings in Santa Fe and Farmington.

It’s important to consider also that the San Juan Generating Station and the San Juan   Coal Mine that supplies its fuel are major employers in the Four Corners region and contribute to the economic health of the region and the state.  Some of the facts:

●  SJGS employs 394 full-time workers, 20% of whom are Native American

●  The San Juan mine employs 526 people, of whom 46% are Native American

●  The plant pays millions of dollars a year in government taxes, including $54.8 million in coal royalties and taxes paid to governments and tribes and $6.4 million paid to in property tax to San Juan County.

●  San Juan also purchases about $30 million in materials and supplies each year and holds approximately $122 million in contracts for outside services. The plant pays $280 million each year for coal and ash removal.

The final decision lies with the EPA, and it will rule no later than August 2011 on which BART must be installed at San Juan Generating Station.  It can decide to allow New Mexico’s SIP for the installation of SNCR technology or require the installation of SCR equipment as developed in its own BART plan.

The cost of either retrofit will be an incremental cost to the state and its citizens. When utility rates increase, the costs of all services and goods produced in the state will also increase. The SCR technology provides an insignificant difference in visibility over the SNCR, but the cost difference is about 12 times higher. Average New Mexicans simply cannot afford the EPA’s recommended SCR technology. The NMUSA believes the state’s SIP plan for installation of SNCR technology at SJGS on is the best alternative and supports this plan as a more cost effective method of addressing the regional haze regulations.

NMUSA encourages you to write to EPA representatives and members of Congress expressing your view on the pending decision.  Contact information is as follows:

Ms. Janet McCabeDeputy Assistant Administrator 

US Environmental Protection Division

Ariel Rios Building

1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC  20460


Mr. Al Armendariz

Regional Administrator

EPA Region 6

1445 Ross Avenue Suite 1200

Dallas, Texas  75202


Senator Tom Udall

219 Central Ave NW Suite 210

Albuquerque, NM 87102


Senator Jeff Bingaman

625 Silver Avenue SW Suite 130

Albuquerque, NM 87102


Congressman Martin Heinrich

505 Marquette Ave NW Suite 1605

Albuquerque, NM 87102


Congressman Ben Ray Lujan

3200 Civic Center NE Suite 330

Rio Rancho, NM 87144


Congressman Steve Pearce

570 N Telshor Blvd

Las Cruces, NM 88011


Carla Sonntag is Head of Governmental Relations for the New Mexico Business Coalition. She can be reached at








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