Lawmakers push to replace state’s largest coal plant with renewable energy

Politics - Government

A big push for New Mexico to be reliant on renewable energy instead of fossil fuels is making its way through the Roundhouse. Part of the controversial bill would shut down New Mexico’s largest coal plant and replace it with renewable energy sources. 

One of the bill’s sponsors says the international panel on climate change says the planet has 12 years to make drastic changes before we start seeing permanent damage to our planet, and she hopes this bill would put New Mexico in the forefront for energy change. 

“We can do this. It is ambitious, but we don’t have any time left to lollygag around and say, ‘Oh, what should we do?’ This is a bold plan that everyone has worked on and almost everyone agrees to,” Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, said. 

Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque says the bill would make PNM close its coal-burning plant in San Juan County and give PNM financial support to transform it into a renewable energy site. 

Senate Bill 489 would call for mine reclamation funding to clean up those mines, provide jobs in renewable energy, and replace all of New Mexico’s carbon-emitting sites with clean energy in 25 years. 

Some Senate Republicans do not support the bill, saying they’re worried about job loss and the pricey transition, nearly $50 million into renewable energy. 

“It’s a bold plan to allow PNM to get out of that market without socking the ratepayers with money. In fact, our state’s rates should go down with the move to renewable energy up there in San Juan,” Sen. Stewart said. 

Sen. Stewart says New Mexico has relied on Coal and natural gas plants for far too long, and says our state has plenty of wind and solar power and we should take advantage of it.

This bill had one of the session’s longest debates on the Senate floor last week, but when it came down to a vote, it had strong support from both sides of the aisle. It’s scheduled for its first House committee on Monday. 

This bill is backed by the governor as well as PNM.  

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