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New Mexico utility negotiates settlement over partial closure of coal-fired power plant

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — The state's largest electric utility has negotiated a settlement proposal that would allow it to meet certain pollution standards with the partial closure of an aging coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

PNM officials said the proposal, if approved by state regulators, would allow the company to reduce its use of coal at the San Juan Generating Station. The utility said it would also have an opportunity to add more renewable energy to its portfolio.

The proposal would result in an increase of about 7 percent to the average customer's bill, according to the utility. The estimated cost to customers stood at about 10 percent — or $7.50 per month — prior to the negotiations.

"This is an important step forward toward final approval of a plan for San Juan that offers the best balance of reliability, affordability and environmental protection," Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources' chairwoman, president and CEO said in a statement.

The settlement proposal was filed Wednesday. It was signed by staff of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, the state attorney general's office, the New Mexico Renewable Industries Association and others.

However, the Santa Fe-based group New Energy Economy said the proposed settlement depends too much on coal- and nuclear-generated power and would saddle customers with the costs of impending emissions regulations as well as the expense of decommissioning coal- and nuclear-fired plants in the future.

It will be up to the Public Regulation Commission to approve the proposal. A final decision is not expected until next year.

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