Enchant Energy’s plan for the San Juan power plant (above) could save mining jobs in New Mexico. (Photo: Enchant Energy)

Enchant Energy Corp. recently published a Sargent & Lundy (S&L) engineering report on the feasibility of a carbon capture retrofit project at San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) in New Mexico. Subject to the approval of the city of Farmington, Enchant Energy will acquire a 95% ownership interest in the 847-megawatt (MW) SJGS to coincide with the planned retirement and abandonment of the facility by its current owners, other than Farmington, on July 1, 2022.

“The results of this study are a significant milestone toward successful implementation of our project and the numerous positive benefits that we envision will follow,” said CEO Jason Selch. “This project will demonstrate that it is possible to comply with stringent CO2 emissions standards for electricity generation using carbon capture utilization and storage technology while providing high-paying jobs and maintaining state and local taxes that are so vital to the northwest region of New Mexico.”

The S&L findings, which were made public June 27 at a U.S. Energy Association briefing, estimate the cost of CO2 capture will range from $39 to $43 per metric ton, a significant decrease from the last major carbon capture retrofit at the Petra Nova facility
in Texas. Given these cost estimates, the $1.3 billion cost to retrofit SJGS can be financed entirely with newly revamped Internal Revenue Code Section 45Q tax credits and will not burden SJGS with additional operating costs. The report found that the carbon capture retrofit would result in a 90% decrease in CO
2 emissions at SJGS, a figure compliant with the recently enacted New Mexico Energy Transition Act’s CO2 emission standard. As a result, SJGS would be able to operate economically beyond June 30, 2022, saving more than 400 jobs, while continuing to produce highly reliable, low-priced, low-emissions and low-carbon baseload power at no additional cost to consumers, the report said.

The plant’s current owner, PNM Resources Inc., recently filed a consolidated application requesting the abandonment of the SJGS, securitization of the unrecovered investment in the plant, and approvals for replacement power resources with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC). When San Juan’s coal supply agreement expires in 2022, PNM wants to bring on 280 MW of natural gas; 350 MW of solar capacity; and 130 MW of battery storage capacity.