By Steve Terrell | sterrell@sfnewmexican.com Nov 5, 2019

Peter Mandelstam has decades of experience in renewable energy. He developed the first large-scale wind energy project in Montana. He won the first offshore wind energy power purchase agreement in the United States. And in the early 1990s, he co-founded a solar energy nonprofit that trained solar technicians and installed projects in the U.S. and Latin America.

Now he’s been hired as chief executive officer of Enchant Energy, the company that wants to use a controversial technology called “carbon capture and sequestration” to keep the aging San Juan Generating Station near Farmington producing electricity until at least 2035. That’s more than a decade after Public Service Company of New Mexico, San Juan’s majority owner, plans to shutter the coal-burning plant by 2022.

The city of Farmington plans to stay on with 5 percent ownership. Enchant would assume 95 percent ownership.

The project’s goal, Mandelstam said in an interview, is to “make it the lowest carbon-emitting fossil fuel plant in the United States.”

The San Juan facility and adjacent coal mine constitute a major source of employment in northwestern New Mexico and a critical revenue source for area schools.

“I’ve been in the energy business since 1990,” he said. And he said he’s still an advocate of renewable energy and sincerely hopes wind, solar and battery-storage technology continue to advance.

“I care deeply about the climate crisis,” Mandelstam said. “I have a 21-year-old son. I want to make sure he has a good world to grow up in. I’ve developed solar and on-land and offshore wind. For all of that work … none of it keeps the lights on.”

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