NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Electricity in the state could be in short supply next summer. The San Juan Generating Station is set to shut down on October 1. The power projects planned to offset the loss, are not finished and may not be until 2024. The state is trying to avoid rolling blackouts next summer.
“I’d much rather see people voluntarily curtail than subject them to rolling blackouts,” said Public Regulations Commissioner, Stephen Fischmann, during a PRC meeting on Thursday afternoon. Utility companies are facing big challenges now that the San Juan Generating Station is closing.
When that shutdown was approved, there were multiple solar facilities planned to replace the power generated by the plant. The plan was to have those complete by the beginning of 2022, at the latest. “None of those projects will be available in 2023 peak,” said Tom Fallgren, the PNM Vice President of generation.
The projects have faced setbacks caused by supply chain issues and delays in the workforce. The delay in those projects means energy companies could have trouble keeping up with demand, which could result in rolling blackouts across the state.
PNM Communications Director, Ray Sandoval says they’re working on contingency plans to get through what’s forecasted to be a tough peak season. Sandoval says they’re working on contingency plans to get through what’s forecasted to be a tough peak season. He explains they may have to depend on the customer in order to avoid a power shutdown.
“We need the public to be ready to help us conserve and save the grid,” Sandoval said. “That way we don’t have to implement those strategic rotating outages,” he explained.
Commissioner Fischman suggested giving customers a special rate if they volunteer to limit their use during peak periods, but PNM says their meters don’t work that way, they only track the hours used by month, not hour by hour, meaning there’s no way to tell when a person is using the most energy.
With no clear solution in sight, Commissioner Fischman says they’re doing everything they can to keep New Mexicans out of the dark. “The lights going out is the worst case,” Fischman said.