Sorry, PNM: Customer cost for clean air likely to be $10 per year, not $90

Coal - San Juan

12/24/10 - PNM claims that it would cost PNM residential customers $90/year for 20 years to implement the recently announced EPA proposed pollution controls for the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station (SJGS), located in Farmington New Mexico. PNM also claims that these pollution controls capital cost would exceed $1 Billion.

Both claims are significantly overstated.

The EPA documents that were releases in conjunction with the proposed pollution controls for SJGS show that the capital cost would be $247 million, not $1 Billion.

Since PNM only owns 46% of the SJGS, PNM customers would pay for only 46% of the total cost. Other major owners of SJGS include three California utilities 24% and Tucson Electric Power 20%, would have to pay their share.

Further, PNM reports that in 2008 only 37% of their energy is used by residential customers. PNM also reports that they currently have 498,700 customers.

The $247M capital cost equates to $29.9M/year, per the EPA document. Thus, the cost per residential customer per year is $29.9M x 0.46 x 0.37 ÷ 498,700 = $10.20/year or 85 cents per month. NOT $90/year.

“PNM is needlessly scaring customers about the cost of cleaning up the air”, David Van Winkle, Energy Chair for the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club said “because they share ownership of this plant with others, and because the San Juan plant is only one of many power sources for them, the monthly cost of cleanup would be less than the cost of popcorn at the movies. And PNM’s cost estimates are inflated according to the EPA. One cost PNM does not take into account is the asthma, heart and lung ailments of local residents who have to breathe air loaded with pollutants that could be removed. That’s a cost already borne by all of us who breathe it. Cleaning up the decades old air pollution at the San Juan Power Plant is affordable. Polluters should pay their way, and part of that is using modern pollution controls. Now is the time for PNM to look at cleaner energy investments which will pay off with cleaner air and jobs for New Mexico – like wind, solar and geothermal energy. Now that would be worth it!”

Check out this press release from the Public News Service