Tag Archives: Farmington

4/6/2011 Daily Times: San Juan Generating Station operator requests permit change

4/6/2011 Daily Times: San Juan Generating Station operator requests permit changes [11:10 a.m.] By Chuck Slothower Posted: 04/06/2012 11:09:15 AM MDT: FARMINGTON — The operator of San Juan Generating Station on Friday requested changes to the coal plant’s air permit to allow for the installation of new pollution controls demanded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico has been battling with the EPA over what kind of technology it should install to meet federal haze-reduction requirements.

“We are prepared to move forward on installing new environmental controls that will meet federal visibility requirements and further reduce the plant’s emissions,” PNM chief executive Pat Vincent-Collawn said in a prepared statement Friday. “Our strong preference is to do this in the most cost-effective way so that the cost to PNM customers and our state’s economy is kept as low as possible.”

PNM is pushing a state plan to install nonselective catalytic reduction technology. But the EPA has mandated selective catalytic reduction, a more expensive but much more effective technology.

The Albuquerque-based utility company says the state plan would cost about $77 million, while the EPA’s mandate would cost $750 million or more. The EPA counters that SCR would cost only $345 million.
Friday’s filing with the state Environment Department requests air permit changes that would allow for the installation of either technology.

The plant’s current permit level for nitrogen oxides is 0.30 pounds per MMBtu and would be lowered to either 0.23 pounds per mmBtu with the installation of SNCR or 0.05 pounds per MMBtu with the installation of SCR, the utility said.

Located west of Farmington in Waterflow, San Juan Generating Station produces 1,800 megawatts of electricity. The city of Farmington owns a portion of one of the plant’s four units.

On March 28, PNM and San Juan Mine operator BHP Billiton agreed to a $10 million settlement with the Sierra Club to take steps aimed at keeping coal waste out of nearby streams.

Durango Telegraph: EPA cracks down on San Juan Generating Station

Durango Telegraph: EPA cracks down on area power plantOne of the Four Corners biggest polluters is in line for a make-over. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules that will require “modern controls” for the San Juan Generating Station. Not surprisingly, Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM), the power plant’s owner, has objected to the new ruling and is already planning an appeal. Located just west of Farmington, the San Juan Generating Station has been burning coal to generate electricity for more than 40 years. The plant also produces 16,000 tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxide emissions each year and is ranked as the ninth dirtiest coal-fired plant in the West. Nitrogen oxide not only creates haze, it is a primary ingredient in ground-level ozone, “the most widespread pollutant in the United State (and) one of the most dangerous,” according to the American Lung Association. Ozone has been linked with asthma attacks, respiratory problems, lung damage and premature death.

The EPA rule announced last Thursday will require the addition of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) pollution controls on the plant’s four boilers in the next five years. The upgrade is expected to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent. The announcement is also a landmark and the EPA’s first federal plan in the country to limit nitrogen oxide emissions under the Clean Air Act. Watchdogs and conservationists hailed the move as a victory.

“We are pleased that EPA has done right in this precedent setting rule-making for the communities adversely affected by continued reliance on energy export coal-derived electricity,” said Mike Eisenfeld, of San Juan Citizens Alliance. “The true costs of relying on coal are coming to bear, and PNM is being held accountable for their pollution.”

The State of New Mexico and PNM take a dimmer view and had been lobbying for a different approach to pollution control at the San Juan Generating Station. However, their plan would have cut nitrogen oxide emissions by just 20 percent. The company is now arguing that the EPA’s plan will be an undue burden on New Mexico customers and is planning to appeal the decision.

“The EPA plan adds unnecessary costs to one of our lowest-cost sources of reliable power,” said Pat Themig, PNM vice president of generation. “If it stands, it will lead to significantly higher future electric rates for the 2 million customers who rely on the plant for reasonably priced power.”

Themig added that the EPA plan will require expenditures in excess of $750 million, while PNM’s would have cost just $77 million. The State of New Mexico concurred and in June approved the lower cost option at San Juan.

“The Clean Air Act gives each state the authority to implement a regional haze program appropriate for the state, and New Mexico exercised this authority when it approved its own plan in June,” Themig said. “EPA’s decision does not relieve it of legal responsibility to fully consider New Mexico’s plan.”

Eisenfeld countered that Themig’s argument is beside the point and argued that the company should be exploring 21st century technology and abandoning its reliance on coal-fired power.

“PNM could be transitioning to more sustainable energy forms in the Four Corners region that more readily reflect current renewable energy technologies rather than retrofitting 1970s archaic coal plants at continued high cost to our communities,” he said.

Donna House, of Diné CARE, a Navajo conservation organization, agreed. “Pollution from this plant has been hurting our communities for generations,” she said. “Cutting coal pollution is a must, and moving to a cleaner energy than coal is the real answer.”