For years, PNM Resources has been dedicated to protecting our environment and complying with all regulations. We recognize and believe in the importance of protecting human health and preserving the environment while serving affordable and reliable power. We accomplish this through careful planning, strong policies, robust controls and excellent operations. Read more from our Environmental Policy.
Environmental Management System
PNM Resources is a leader in the utility industry for minimizing and mitigating the environmental impacts of utility work by having a strong Environmental Management System (EMS) which is rooted in our Corporate Environmental Policy and the international ISO 14001 standard for Environmental Management Systems. For the power plants which are owned and operated by PNM, plant-specific EMSs are audited at least annually by an ISO 14001 Registrar.
Two primary EMS tools ensure that all company employees incorporate environmental stewardship in their daily activities. These are the Environmental Screening Process and Employee Training, which are described below.
- Environmental Screening Process: Before field work or new projects begin, PNM and TNMP employees must screen their activities to identify potential issues associated with compliance requirements and resource protection. Issues reviewed include:
- habitat and threatened and endangered species,
- water and riparian area sensitivities,
- avian protection,
- cultural resources, and
- federal, state and local jurisdictional requirements and permitting.
When an issue is identified, work does not proceed until environmental clearance containing adequate and appropriate precautions, stipulations and permits have been issued. This system has allowed the company to establish a significant database of environmental and culturally sensitive areas in New Mexico and Texas, using existing government resources as well as data which the company has specifically collected or funded.
- Employee Training: Comprehensive Environmental Training is required of operational employees and some contractors at least every two years. Numerous successes have resulted from increased employee awareness on topics from turbine operations to nesting birds as well as many others.
The overall goal of the EMS is to ensure continuous improvement in PNM Resources’ environmental performance as well as foster a company-wide environmental stewardship ethic.
Osprey nesting platform installed by PNM on a utility pole near a reservoir. The platform is situated in a manner to prevent these birds of prey from collision or electrocution.
Both PNM and TNMP have developed Avian Protection Plans (APP) in accordance with the guidelines established by the Avian Powerline Interaction Committee, which includes representation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Each APP includes commitments to both reactive and proactive avian protection efforts. One method of protection is “bird guarding.” PNM and TNMP track and manage avian interactions with aerial electrical equipment and ensure that distribution poles that lead to avian electrocutions and outages are retrofitted with appropriate bird guarding material in a timely manner. Bird guarding material makes distribution poles more avian-safe and less likely to cause future outages. PNM and TNMP have retrofitted (or bird guarded) 14,777 poles on the distribution electrical system since 2013. These numbers are related to both reactionary (bird-caused and tracked outage) and proactive (bird guarding on a systematic basis) efforts.
- 2013—6,294 poles retrofitted
- 2014—5,498 poles retrofitted
- 2015—2,985 poles retrofitted
Since 2013 the Company has spent $1.4 million to make distribution poles avian-safe and less likely to cause future outages. The cost to bird guard a structure is dependent upon the location, the necessity to plan an outage to bird guard, the aerial equipment located on the pole, and the pole configuration.
- 2013—$418,322 spent
- 2014—$838,318 spent
- 2015—$154,654 spent
As long as we have trees, there will always be a conflict between the power we depend on and the trees that beautify our communities and landscapes. At PNM and TNMP, our Vegetation Management Program helps manage that conflict by trimming trees that interfere with power lines.
We trim trees to:
- Help maintain a reliable power supply
- Protect the public’s safety
- Protect properties, public spaces and trees from damage
San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program
PNM has been an active participant in the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program. This innovative endeavor was developed through cooperation among federal agencies, the States of New Mexico and Colorado, Native American nations and tribes, water users and conservation interests with the intent to assist in the recovery of the endangered Colorado Pikeminnow and Razorback Sucker in the San Juan River. As part of the program, the San Juan Generating Station partially funded and maintains a fish passage adjacent to its river diversion to allow these native fish access to critical habitat.
PNM supports the adoption of electric vehicles both through its own fleet of electric vehicles and by providing free charging stations through April 2017 in coordination with Nissan in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Prosperity Energy Storage Project
PNM, in conjunction with the University of New Mexico, Northern New Mexico College, East Penn Manufacturing and Sandia National Laboratories, developed the first solar battery backup project in the nation that is fully connected to a utility’s power grid. Learn more about the Prosperity Energy Storage Project.
Research and Planning
PNM conducts research and planning activities using a number of different avenues including preparing an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) once every three years and works with the Electric Power Research Institute.
The IRP identifies the most cost effective portfolio of resources to supply PNM's customers' energy needs over a 20 year period with a specific action plan for the next four years. The IRP is a public process that includes numerous meetings and public inputs to generate the plan. According to the filing requirements, for resources whose costs and services are equivalent, PNM should prefer resources that minimize environmental impacts. The integrated resource planning process results in an investment roadmap for the Company and documents the actions required to achieve the plan's objectives over the next four years.
On April 20, 2017, PNM posted a public comment draft of the IRP that shows a most cost effective portfolio that would result in the following changes to PNM's generation resources:
- Retire San Juan Generating Station Units 1 and 4 by the end of 2022 (497 MW retail + 65 MW merchant), after the existing coal-supply agreement expires on June 30, 2022 (Units 2 and 3 will be retired at the end of 2017),
- Exit PNM's 13% participation in Four Corners (200 MW) when the existing coal-supply agreement expires in 2031,
- Replacement will include renewables (primarily solar), natural gas, and potentially energy storage, and
- Retain existing 114 MW of leases in Palo Verde
The results of the IRP illustrates that energy needs are changing and replacing coal supply with renewable energy and more flexible generators will save money in the long run. The report acknowledges the impact on the economy in the Four Corners region and PNM will work with the most affected communities to mitigate the impact of those changes.
The final decisions on these plants and generation mix are not PNM's alone to make--there are a number of regulatory, legal and other processes to work through as these plants are considered. We are meeting with participating individuals and groups in communities throughout New Mexico to receive public comment. After the public comment period, PNM will finalize the report and file with the NMPRC on July 3, 2017.
PNM Resources has a long history of strong environmental stewardship, balanced with cost conscientiousness. It is rooted in one of our core values- caring about our customers, the communities we serve, and our natural resources.
Across the company, employees are also dedicated to reducing the environmental footprint of our daily internal operations through recycling and other waste mitigation and conservation activities.
At TNMP, we work diligently to minimize the environmental impact of our operations of building and maintaining energy infrastructure and support energy efficiency measures.
At PNM, we are committed to supporting the advancement and use of cleaner sources of energy as well as promoting responsible conservation measures, including energy efficiency. PNM has made, and continues to make, significant investments to ensure compliance with federal and state environmental regulations while working to minimize the cost to our customers, many of whom live below the poverty line.
As New Mexico’s largest energy provider, PNM continuously demonstrates environmental leadership in resource planning and management, integration of new technologies and daily operations. Key environmental milestones are outlined in this section. Highlights include:
- In 2003, PNM became the first New Mexico utility to serve customers with wind-generated electricity. In 2015 the company increased wind energy by 50 percent to 300 MW;
- Since 2006, PNM has invested nearly a half-billion dollars in technology that has significantly reduced emissions at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station (SJGS). In 2009 a major environmental upgrade project was completed that reduced NOx emissions by 44%, SO2 emissions by 71% and particulate matter emissions by 72%. Additionally that environmental upgrade has resulted in SJGS being an industry leader in mercury emissions control, achieving a 99% removal rate;
- The SJGS BART plan to address the EPA’s Regional Haze rules will continue this tradition. Units 2 and 3 will be shut down at the end of 2017 and SNCR and balanced draft equipment has already been installed on Units 1 and 4 to reduce particulate matter. This will result in a significant decrease in overall emissions as well as an approximately 50 percent reduction in water usage at the facility. This will also put New Mexico in a good position to comply with the EPA Clean Power Plan;
- As of December 31, 2015 we have 107 MW of PNM-owned solar serving our New Mexico customers
Details regarding specific PNM environmental improvements are included in the Company’s SEC filings.
As a result of the SJGS BART plan, the capacity and energy profile at PNM will be changing significantly, showing less reliance on coal for our power. PNM customers are served by a diverse mix of resources, including nuclear, gas, coal, wind, solar and geothermal energy. The charts below show the current capacity and energy mix for PNM, and what is projected in 2018, after the SJGS BART plan has been implemented.
Capacity is the physical amount of generation – power plants – that PNM has available to serve its customers. These power plants all have potential to generate electricity to deliver to PNM customers to meet customers’ peak demand. Energy is the amount of electricity produced from these power plants over time.
Note the difference between capacity and energy in the charts below. Some plants, such as base load coal and nuclear plants, deliver electricity a significant amount of the time to customers to keep the lights on 24/7. Other resources, such as renewables and gas peaking stations, only deliver energy a portion of the time—approximately 30 to 35 percent of the time.
All forms of energy have an environmental impact, which can include impacts to land, water, air and animal and plant life. Emissions are one of the environmental impacts that result from energy being produced by fossil fuels, including coal and natural gas. PNM has worked to significantly reduce emissions over the last 15 years, through the installation of additional pollution control technologies at the San Juan Generating Station, increased use of renewable energy on our system, use of best available control technologies at new natural gas plants, and the development of extensive energy efficiency and conservation programs for customers. Below are some of the key data points on emissions from the resources that serve PNM customers, as well as some of the key actions PNM has taken to reduce these emissions.
- Between 2006 and 2009, as part of a $320 million environmental upgrade, PNM and the other owners of San Juan Generating Station installed new technologies to significantly reduce plant emissions. The upgrade has resulted in a dramatic drop in four of the plant’s main emissions:
- Nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 44%
- Sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 71%
- Particulate matter by 72%, and
- Mercury by 99%.
- In 2013, PNM worked with the EPA and the State of New Mexico to craft a plan to address EPA’s visibility rule and provide significant additional environmental benefits at a lower cost than the federal plan proposed by EPA.
- The State Implementation Plan includes the retirement of two of San Juan Generating Station’s four units by the end of 2017 and the installation of selective non-catalytic reduction to further reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.
- The plan will allow PNM to reduce the burning of coal and increase the use of cleaner fuels, such as natural gas and solar energy. It will also dramatically cut other emissions, including greenhouse gases (CO2), and help protect PNM customers from the cost of complying with future federal environmental regulations. The plan also would result in an estimated 50 percent reduction in the plant’s water usage.
The Clean Air Act
The federal Clean Air Act contains requirements under the Regional Haze Rule for states to protect and improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. The rule includes guidelines for conducting Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) determinations for certain covered facilities. San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) is a BART-eligible source in New Mexico due to its emissions and proximity to sixteen parks and wilderness areas. Compliance with the Regional Haze Rule at SJGS is accomplished by the implementation of the BART under the Regional Haze Revised State Implementation Plan that was approved by the NM Environmental Improvement Board, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NM Public Regulation Commission.
SJGS Regional Haze Plan and The Clean Power Plan
PNM, the New Mexico Environment Department and the EPA worked together to create a forward-looking plan for the company’s SJGS that addresses federal haze regulations under the Clean Air Act. The N.M. Environmental Improvement Board approved the plan in 2013, EPA approved the plan in September of 2014 and the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission gave its approval in December of 2015. The SJGS plan called for the installation of additional nitrogen oxide emissions control technology on two units by January 2016. This work has already taken place. In addition, the plan requires the closure of two of the plant’s four coal-fired generating units by the end of 2017.
PNM’s Regional Haze Plan for SJGS will play a significant role in helping New Mexico comply with EPA’s final Clean Power Plan that requires greenhouse gas emission reductions from fossil-fueled electric generation. Although the rule has currently been stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court while being litigated, the San Juan Regional Haze plan will provide a significant step for New Mexico to comply with the final rule, should it stand. By shutting two units down at SJGS seven emissions will be significantly reduced, including greenhouse gases, which will be reduced by about 50 percent or 5 to 6 million tons per year. By undertaking the significant actions at SJGS, New Mexico’s greenhouse gas emissions will be lowered by approximately 25% by the year 2030 as compared to 2012 levels. In addition, we have proposed replacement power to include the use of cleaner fuels, including zero-carbon emitting nuclear and solar resources plus natural gas peaking capacity.
While PNM continues to reduce its emissions, the company is also focused on reducing its water use. The planned shutdown of San Juan Generating Station Units 2 and 3 at the end of 2017 will reduce our water usage even more significantly than what we have already done.
(This chart displays PNM’s share of the energy taken across our generation facilities.)
*Shows entire plant usage, not PNM’s interest percentage
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
PNM is proud to be a participant in Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, the largest and safest carbon-free nuclear power plant in the United States, located about 55 miles west of downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Palo Verde serves about 30 percent of the power needs of PNM consumers.
- Three-unit, 3,810-megawatt nuclear generation station.
- Online since 1986.
- Operated by Arizona Public Service Company.
- Serves more than 1 million homes in the Southwest.
- No greenhouse gases are emitted as a result of the generation process because no fossil fuels are burned.
- A very small amount of high-level nuclear waste — or nuclear fuel — is generated from Palo Verde. This waste is stored in an onsite fuel pool until it can be transferred to dry storage casks that are placed in a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensed, on-site storage facility. This facility may be expanded to include all required casks for nuclear fuel used through Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station's NRC Operating License duration of 2047.
- If all the electricity used throughout one person's life were produced by nuclear power, the person's share of high- and low-level waste would fit in a single soda can.
- Palo Verde is the only nuclear energy facility in the world that uses treated sewage effluent for cooling water. Palo Verde uses treated effluent water from the metropolitan Phoenix area. The wastewater is treated again at the plant's water reclamation facility, then stored in an 80-acre reservoir for use in the plant's nine cooling towers. More than 20 billion gallons of water are recycled each year.
- Palo Verde is licensed and routinely inspected by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Only highly trained, qualified professionals licensed by the NRC operate the plant.
Team Green is an employee-led program which has focused on waste diversion and recycling throughout the geographic spread of our facilities since 2007. Employees at each facility develop programs and practices that make sense for each location. Members meet regularly to share successes, tips and tools with other teams. Team Green has ensured that we have met annual solid waste reduction goals for over a decade. In fact, PNM received recognition from the New Mexico Recycling Coalition twice for its recycling efforts, once for its overall corporate recycling program as Business Recycler of the Year, and once for recycling efforts at its Ruidoso operations office.
Solid Waste Reductions/Diversions
PNM Resources’ 2016 Corporate Waste Goal is to have 18 or more of its facilities meet or achieve a waste diversion rate of 60% and continue to divert at least the same number of waste streams as in 2015.
Reducing consumption of electricity not only helps customers by reducing bills, but programs result in significant environmental benefits.
New Mexico’s Renewable Portfolio Standard:
(1)The 40 MW of PNM-owned solar capacity placed in service in 2015 will be recovered through base rates rather than through the Renewable Energy Rider.
The RPS Requirement is reduced for the Large Customer Adjustment (bill protection of 2% of revenues or $99,000) and for exempt customers (exempt from all requirements & costs), both pursuant to NMSA rule 17.9.572.