The Story of San Juan Generating Station
The Story of San Juan Generating Station
Since the early 1970s, the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) has reliably served New Mexicans and customers throughout the West with abundant electricity. Now, as energy needs and consumer preferences change, a new chapter begins.
Enchant Energy plans to repurpose SJGS into both a state-of-the-art commercial–scale carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS) facility and wholesale power generator. This will be a further enhancement to New Mexico’s nationally recognized leadership position in reducing greenhouse gases. It’s also exciting to the hundreds of SJGS and mine employees and their families, as well as to the citizens of San Juan County.
Change is nothing new to SJGS as it has undergone many changes in its long service to customers, especially with respect to emission reduction improvements and ownership changes.
Plant Ownership and Reconfiguration
The plant as originally built was a four–unit facility with eight owners. The total generating capacity of all four units was 1,684 megawatts. As the original ownership operating agreements expired, several owners decided to exit because of their changing energy resource needs. Today the plant owners are PNM (66%), Tucson Electric Power (20%), the City of Farmington (5%), Los Alamos County, NM (4%) and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (4%). (These figures are rounded to the nearest whole percent.) The dedicated coal mine that furnishes the plant’s fuel is owned by Westmoreland Coal.
At the end of 2017, SJGS Units 2 and 3 were closed as part of a settlement agreement reached between the State of New Mexico and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Today, SJGS is a two-unit facility with total production capacity of 847 megawatts. As the operator, PNM has announced its intent to close the plant in 2022. The City of Farmington has indicated interest in retaining ownership post–2022 and is pleased to support Enchant Energy in its planned repurposing.
Environmental Performance History
SJGS is fully compliant with all U.S. and New Mexico environmental standards for air and water protection. In fact, SJGS exceeds the stringent environmental performance requirements of the proposed Clean Power Plan, which was never implemented.
As part of the settlement agreement mentioned above, plant owners including PNM and the City of Farmington invested several hundred million dollars in selective non-catalytic reduction technology that met or exceeded requirements for even more stringent levels of air quality control. This includes significant reductions to Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2 ) and Mercury.
The combined effect of these investments is full compliance with regional haze reduction regulations as negotiated with the EPA and the State of New Mexico. This investment was completed in January 2016 and today SJGS is one of the cleanest power plants of its type in the Western U.S.
The CO2 capture plans by Enchant Energy will take SJGS’s environmental performance to the next level by substantially reducing carbon emissions to the point where the amount of CO2 released will be lower than any existing or proposed natural gas–fired power plant in New Mexico. Enchant Energy is projecting that a CCUS-equipped SJGS will emit just 249 pounds of CO2 per Megawatt Hour (MWh) of power produced. This compares with an average of 915 pounds of CO2 per MWh for a typical natural gas-fired power plant (per the U.S. Energy Information Agency).
The repurposing of SJGS means a lot economically to New Mexico, San Juan County, and the hundreds of men and women and their families who work at the plant and mine.
- The Children
Central Consolidated School District serves much of the New Mexico side of the Navajo Nation. The district serves 6,000 students at 15 schools and covers nearly 3,000 square miles. The District’s largest single source of property–tax-backed school bond money is the SJGS plant and mine. The District, in addition to having many parents of children who work at the plant and mine, the district has millions of dollars of outstanding bonds secured in part with the assurance of the plant and mine’s continued operation.
The combined operations are the largest single piece of assessed property in San Juan County. Under Enchant Energy’s plan to repurpose SJGS the facilities will continue to support schools and local government, including basic services such as roads, emergency services, and healthcare.
The State of New Mexico benefits from taxes as well. The state benefits from severance tax, conservation tax, resource excise tax and gross receipts tax paid by the San Juan Mine.