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Community and Environment

Community and Environment

PNM Resources’ business success is linked to the economic success and social well being of the communities we serve, as well as a healthy natural environment. The company, its employees and its customers value environmental stewardship.

Among the actions PNM Resources has taken to demonstrate its commitment to the environment are expansion of renewable energy resources, reduction of emissions from coal-fired power plants, facility-wide recycling initiatives, and wildlife protection programs. The company also has an Environmental Management System that underscores the responsibility of every employee to know how their daily jobs can impact the environment.

Climate Change

PNM Resources has long acknowledged the importance of addressing climate change in an environmentally meaningful and cost effective way and, as a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, was an early supporter of comprehensive federal legislation as the way to best achieve these goals.  However, in the absence of federal legislation and following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EPA has initiated greenhouse gas regulation. 

In anticipation of these regulations and to comply with regional haze regulations, PNM Resources has committed to an agreement with the State of New Mexico and EPA which will effectively reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions to at least 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2018.  PNM is further committed to actively engage in the state and federal policy and regulatory debate, to ensure that future policies are efficient, environmentally effective, and affordable.

PNM Resources actively advocates for sound climate policy on its own and through alliances, including the Edison Electric Institute, the Generators for Clean Air, and the Coalition for Innovative Climate Solutions.

PNM Resources purchases all the production from the 200-megawatt New Mexico Wind Farm near House, N.M.

Renewable Energy Expansion

PNM has made significant investments in renewable energy since 2003. Before New Mexico had a Renewable Portfolio Standard, PNM entered into a purchase agreement to add 204 megawatts from the N.M. Wind Energy Center into its generation portfolio. The state renewable standard now in place requires all utilities to have energy from renewable resources represent 20 percent of energy produced by 2020. PNM is on track to meet that standard.

Starting in 2011, PNM began adding utility-scale solar to serve its customers. By the end of 2014, PNM will have invested $180 million in PNM-owned solar facilities. Solar investments include:

  • 43.5 megawatts of utility scale solar in service as of December 31, 2013.
  • The PNM Prosperity Energy Storage Project.
  • 23 megawatts of utility-scale solar to be added in 2014.

PNM also is adding 10 megawatts of geothermal power in 2014 and will purchase 102.5 megawatts of wind through a purchase power agreement from the Red Mesa Wind Energy Center in Cibola County beginning in 2015.

Reduction of Emissions from Coal-Fired Electricity

Regional Haze Rule and San Juan Generating Station

San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant located near Farmington, N.M., is required to comply with a federal regional haze or visibility rule. An agreement reached between the N.M. Environment Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and PNM would lead to the retirement of two of the four units of the plant by the end of 2017 and the installation of a nitrogen oxide-reducing technology known as selective non-catalytic reduction on the remaining two units by early 2016.

The plan reduces nitrogen oxides along with sulfur dioxide and particulates (all related to visibility impact) and a number of other emissions, including a significant reduction in greenhouse gas and the amount of water needed for generation.

  • Nitrogen Oxide reduction of 62 percent
  • Sulfur Dioxide  reduction of 67 percent
  • Particulate Matter reduction of 50 percent
  • Mercury reduction of 50 percent
  • Carbon Monoxide reduction of 44 percent
  • Volatile Organic Compounds reduction of 51 percent
  • Carbon Dioxide reduction of 50 percent
  • Coal ash generation reduction of 48 percent
  • Estimated water use reduction of 50 percent

The agreement is not final and must go through a lengthy approval process. The N.M. Environmental Improvement Board in September 2013 unanimously approved the plan, which has been submitted to the EPA where consideration will take about a year. The N.M. Public Regulation Commission also must approve components of the plan, including the replacement power and cost recovery.

PNM modeling shows that the most cost-effective resource mix to replace two retiring units at San Juan Generating Station includes nuclear (from an existing nuclear plant, the Palo Verde Generating Station), a new natural gas plant (2018) and 40 megawatts of solar PV mounted on single axis tracking.   

2009 Environmental Upgrade

In 2009, PNM completed a four-year $320 million environmental upgrade of San Juan Generating Station. The upgrade significantly reduced emissions including:

  • nitrogen oxides
  • sulfur dioxide
  • particulate matter
  • mercury

Because of the upgrade, the plant is in full compliance with the federal mercury rule issued in 2012.

Recycling Initiatives

Since 2003, PNM Resources has had three corporate-wide solid waste reduction goals. Since 2007, PNM Resources has diverted more than 28,650 tons of solid waste. In 2012, PNM diverted approximately 2,799 tons of material.

Wildlife Protection Programs

The PNM Resources service area in Texas and New Mexico is home to hundreds of avian species. Though utility structures are a place that birds naturally find to roost, nest or find protection from weather events, unfortunately birds and electricity don’t always mix. While birds can sit on power lines and be safe, if they happen to touch energized conductors and/or grounded equipment, such as a transformer bank, they can be electrocuted.

Since 2010, the company has birdguarded more than 5,000 poles. The program focuses on proactive, reactive and preventive approaches to minimize and eliminate bird deaths on its system. All bird guarded distribution feeders have seen a decline in mortality.

PNM is the founder and ongoing sponsor of the New Mexico Avian Protection Working Group, in conjunction with Hawks Aloft, New Mexico Game and Fish, the Rural Utility Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The group trains co-ops and other utilities throughout the Southwest on avian protection best practices.  The company is a charter member of the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC), a national organization of utility industry biologists and standards engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. APLIC has developed and published Suggested Practices for Avian Protection on Power Lines, which reflects the state of the art in avian protection practices. 

Environmental Management System

Since 2000, the Environmental Management System has made PNM Resources a leader in the utility industry for minimizing and mitigating environmental impacts of utility work.

When company employees head out to the field every day to work on keeping the electric system reliable, one of their top priorities is protecting New Mexico’s and Texas’ environmental and cultural resources.  Two primary areas of focus have helped PNM Resources become an industry leader:

Work Screening Process – Before any kind of maintenance or construction field work, employees must screen their work through the Environmental Management System (EMS) process screening for a range of issues, including:

  • habitat and threatened and endangered species issues;
  • water and riparian area sensitivities;
  • cultural resources;
  • hazards such as leaking underground storage tanks and landfills; and
  • federal, state and local jurisdictional triggers.

If an environmental issue is identified, the PNM Resources Environmental Services Department reviews the screening forms and works with operations staff on next steps to ensure the work is done with the proper environmental precautions, stipulations and potential permits for the work to proceed. This work has helped the Company establish a significant database of New Mexico’s and Texas’ environmental and culturally sensitive areas which is graphically displayed as Hotzones or Hotwings using Geographic Information System software. In these areas, construction and maintenance activities are conducted in accordance with special stipulations specific to the type of resource of concern.

ISO 14001 Registration – PNM-owned and operated power plants have Environmental Management Systems which are certified to the ISO 14001 International Standard for EMS. Audits are conducted at least annually by external “registrar” auditors.

Community Giving

PNM’s commitment to environmental stewardship encourages the utilization of renewable and sustainable resources and seeks to preserve and protect New Mexico’s beautiful lands. We focus on efforts supporting energy sustainability, environmental conservation and stewardship of our natural resources. 

Examples of environmental stewardship funding include:

  • energy efficiency programs;
  • land restoration, such as recovery of an area after a natural disaster;
  • preservation of natural ecosystems and wildlife;
  • programs that increase environmental education and awareness of key resource issues; and
  • beautification and enhancement of communities through tree planting and community clean up.