San Juan Generating Station is a key source of low cost, reliable electricity for Public Service New Mexico (PNM) and more than 2 million customers. Operational for nearly four decades, the power plant is located 15 miles west of Farmington, New Mexico, and has a current capacity of 1,700 MW from four coal-fired units, which are supplied by BHP Billiton’s San Juan Coal Mine.
In 2009, PNM completed a 4-year, $320 million environmental upgrade to significantly reduce nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates and mercury emissions at the power plant. However, in 2011 the EPA additionally requested the installation of selective catalytic reduction technology costing $750 million to address regional haze. This was considerably more expensive than a state-approved technology to satisfy the same federal visibility rules, and potentially affected the long term viability of both the power plant and coal mine.
PNM and BHP Billiton therefore commissioned the Seidman Research Institute in summer 2012 to evaluate the operational economic impact of San Juan Generating Station and Coal Mine at a county and state level, to assess the potential impact of a single- and multiple-unit shut-down program.