September 11, 2008

PNM To Shift Power Plan ; Switch to Natural Gas, Nuclear Plants

By Winthrop Quigley Journal Staff Writer

PNM said Wednesday it wants to use two of its southern New Mexico natural gasfired power plants to generate electricity for its retail customers and plans to buy capacity at an Arizona nuclear power plant that it is currently leasing.

PNM said the Public Regulation Commission must first approve the plan, to be submitted next week, and any changes in rates that might result. But, the company said, its resources plan has the support of the commission's staff, the Attorney General's Office, the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy and the city of Albuquerque.

A PNM spokeswoman said the changes in the utility's resource plans are designed to improve the system's reliability, meet growing demand for electric power and limit greenhouse gases.

PNM expects to ask later this month for an electric rate increase that will reflect the change in generating resources and a planned major environmental upgrade at its coal-fired San Juan plant near Farmington. Any rate changes are not expected before summer 2009, according to the company.

The company plans to generate a total of 270 megawatts of electricity from existing plants near Deming and Lordsburg, which is enough to power 189,000 average New Mexico homes. The plants currently generate power for wholesale customers.

PNM said it would pay $77.6 million for 30 megawatts of nuclear power that it now leases at the Palo Verde plant in Arizona. The company said the purchase would save consumers $22 million over the remaining life of the plant.

(c) 2008 Albuquerque Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.