PNM, NM Gas Co. explain potential impacts of Energy Transition Act

New Mexico
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A move to make New Mexico a leader in renewable energy means how we receive and pay for electricity might look very different in just 25 years.

On party lines, the State Senate and House both passed Senate Bill 489, the Energy Transition Act, that’s aimed at making New Mexico a 100 percent carbon-free energy state by 2045.

The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham indicated in her campaign platforms that she will give it a thumbs up, making our state a leader in climate initiatives, like this.

If the bill gets her approval, it means wind and solar energy will take center stage and the burning of fossil fuels at generator plants, creating carbon dioxide, will be phased out by the 25-year deadline.

KRQE News 13 sat down with PNM and NM Gas Company, asking how customers would be affected and what the future of their companies could look like.

The impacts would be virtually non-existent for NM Gas Company consumers.

“NM Gas Company buys gas and provides it to its customers for the use in heating their homes, that’s not affected by this bill,” Tom Domme, VP of External Affairs, said.

Essentially, this bill does not target the burning of gas by individuals every time a pot of water is boiled on the stove or the heat is cranked up. The CO2 produced by that kind of burning is miniscule anyways,” Domme explained.

NM Gas Company, however, would eventually stop providing natural gas to PNM to fuel its power plants. Domme says that’s the biggest producer of CO2, alongside transportation emissions.

PNM says it will also eliminate its coal-powered operations in the Four Corners region by roughly 2022. There will be a transition there to renewable energy production rather than a total shuttering of the plants.

So, the roughly 400 PNM workers in the region aren’t out of jobs. The bill provides about $40 million that will cover severance packages and training for careers in renewable energy.

The transition in the San Juan region is actually a goal PNM already had in place, among others that align with this proposed law.

“The significant transitions that have already happened in our industry have taken us to 70 percent carbon-free by 2032,” Tom Fallgren, VP of PNM Generation, said.

As for your electric bill, PNM says the average bill will see a decrease of about $6 to $7. At the end of the day, PNM admits it would be a challenge to meet the 100 percent deadline by 2045, but a welcomed challenge.

“It’s a cost-effective change for our customers, it’s also environmentally responsible, and then again it can position PNM and New Mexico as an energy leader,” Fallgren said.

NM Gas Company also said it supports the bill and that its parent company is looking for ways to join the effort for a better environment.

Hawaii, California and D.C. also have carbon-free energy goals in place.

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