Get the SJGS Facts:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why doesn't PNM replace San Juan with all renewable energy since the sun and wind are free?
A. The sun and wind are free, but renewable energy actually costs significantly more than traditional sources of energy such as gas and coal. One reason is that renewable energy is intermittent and only available when the sun shines and the wind blows. As a result, utilities have to build back-up generation to be available during the times when renewable energy isn't available.
Based on our recent bids to add more solar energy to our system (we added 22 megawatts in 2011), replacing San Juan with solar would cost upwards of $4 billion and require 18,000 acres of land.
In addition, for the same reasons, renewable energy isn't as reliable as more traditional sources. Storage currently isn't commercially feasible.
Q. Why doesn't PNM want to add more renewable energy?
A. We do, and we have plans to do just that. You can read more in our April 30, 2012, press release. In 2011 alone, we added 22 megawatts of solar energy to our system. Combined with the wind power through our voluntary program, PNM Sky Blue, we produce enough wind and solar power today to power 80,500 average homes. Customers own additional renewable energy that powers about 1,900 average homes, for a total of 82,400 average homes per year. We are on track to meet the state's aggressive goal to have 20 percent of our energy from renewable resources by 2020.
Q. Doesn't San Juan contribute to asthma and other health problems?
A. San Juan Generating Station meets or exceeds all public health rules. Some opponents of SJGS have cited studies linking the plant to asthma and other health problems. However, those studies are based upon models that are extremely flawed , do not reply upon actual health data and use old data from SJGS that does not reflect environmental improvements completed in 2009. A Harvard physician looked at the studies and agreed (read more: download pdf). In fact, San Juan County has been ranked by both the American Lung Association and World Health Organization as having some of the best air quality in the nation.
Q. Isn't San Juan Generation Station one of the largest sources of NOx pollution in the United States?
A. The largest source of NOx emissions in the United States is transportation, representing 62 percent of the total. The second largest source is electricity generation, representing 30 percent of the total. San Juan Generating Station is a large coal plant and is a major producer of power for the U.S. Southwest and west, serving 2 million customers. That context is important; its emissions are in keeping with its size. San Juan has dramatically reduced its NOx emissions in recent years, down 44 percent from 2006 levels.
Learn more about San Juan Generating Station
Updated: Aug. 6, 2012