BPU Will Decide County’s Participation In Coal Plant Post 2022


Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities will be recommending to its Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to let the county’s contract for a three percent ownership share in the San Juan Generating Station expire in 2022. 

Consideration of this recommendation will occur at the Wednesday, May 16, BPU meeting scheduled at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building, 1000 Central Ave. The BPU decision will then be forwarded to the County Council for concurrence.

Los Alamos County entered into a plant participation agreement in the mid-1980s with eight other owners of the San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired plant in the Farmington area. In December of 2017, four of the owners voluntarily exited the plant with a penalty, after agreement was reached with the State of New Mexico and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to shut down two of the four units to meet a regional haze rule. The remaining owners, which includes Los Alamos, negotiated a new coal supply agreement with San Juan Coal Company, the fuel provider to the plant. As part of the new coal supply agreement, San Juan Coal requires notice by June 30, 2018 from the owners of their intent to either exit or remain in the plant after the 2022 expiration of the plant participation agreement. 

In 2016, the Department of Public Utilities contracted with Pace Global, an independent, third-party expert, to weigh opportunities, risks, and cost of future electric generating resources, while also considering the county’s future goals.  Results from the analysis were compiled into an Integrated Resource Plan, dated June 2017 and available online at https://rebrand.ly/DPU-IRP-Rpt. Findings by Pace Global in the IRP determined that continued participation in the plant, beyond 2022, was not economically viable. Rather, it suggested pursuing other generation options, such as solar with storage and the Carbon Free Power Project, a next-generation nuclear facility.

Based on these findings, DPU staff will recommend to the BPU that the County exit the San Juan Generating Station upon expiration of the plant participation agreement in 2022 and not participate in any potential operating agreement extensions. 

The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) operates the county-owned electric, gas, water & wastewater systems under the jurisdiction of the Board of Public Utilities. The Board meets the third Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. and the public is always welcome. The DPU is funded by rates paid for electric, gas, water and wastewater services and auxiliary fees, and has provided the community with these services for more than 50 years. CustomerCare@lacnm.us | 505.662.8333 | www.losalamosnm.us/government/departments/UTILITIES.