Last Thursday I attended a public meeting held by New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) Commissioner Sandy Jones regarding the decommissioning of two out of four of PNM’s San Juan Power Generation Stations. In response to federal mandates handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offered a proposal that has been approved by EPA representative, PRC staff, New Mexico’s Governor and New Mexico’s Attorney General. At the 2 p.m. part of the public meeting held in accordance with public meeting laws with the purpose of inviting public comment, I was the youngest person in the room filled with 60 people or more (standing room only).
Most attendees were community agitators and people with a socialistic view that I recognized as members of environmental groups or as Democratic Party operatives. These people, who could be my grandparents, want to close down all four of the San Juan Generation stations. I was horrified when several of the agitators stood up and disrespectfully addressed Commissioner Jones– many went over the 3-minute time limit and others demanded Commissioner Jones answer questions. In one dramatic incident an agitator asked Commissioner Jones if he would repeat “global warming” with him– I was impressed with Jones’ response! Another moment that got me was when a woman suggested New Mexico “take the lead” and become like Costa Rica. It took my breath away– why would I want to live in an impoverished country?
The supporters of the PNM were locals I know through work in the community– some were from the Chamber of Commerce, others were local small business owners, utility providers (PNM and telecommunications) and people who have lived here forever (closer to my parents age). These people varied demographically opposed to the environmentalists. From the Hispanic man who is from our city and explains how PNM is a good corporate citizen and how he worked for PNM for thirty years, to the lady who had lived in our town for decades and values PNM as a reliable utility provider and stable benefactor for our community. Most were genuine working class people I could relate to opposed to trust fund babies who have unreachable utopian goals as their guiding light.
After signing in and waiting for over an hour to speak, my name was finally called and I shared my perspective– I received applause from the crowd as I referred to my youth, but after mentioning my support for PNM (two thirds of the crowd were environmentalists) I could feel the audience’s attitude toward me change:
Commissioners,Thank you for holding this meeting today– I appreciate your visit to our county!I am here to speak on behalf of our young people! I’m in my early twenties and it is MY future that is directly affected by this proposal!PNM has proposed a sensible solution to comply with federal requirements for the San Juan Generating Station while listening to stakeholders which include everyday citizens like me!As a young person I see we must be responsible stewards of the environment while using the natural resources we have to their greatest potential– from coal generation to wind and solar, we need options– That’s why diversification is important. PNM understands this! We can not afford to close down our energy in a way that would hurt our communities and our future.Young people today want to know they have secure, stable, cost-effective and reliable power generation for the future using proven methods that will keep our economy going, and not raise the bills at power company or foot the bill to us as taxpayers! As students graduate from college and begin careers, the last thing they need is instability! We need jobs and opportunities! We deserve the opportunity for a BRIGHT future! The future will be for us.PNM has negotiated a plan that has the approval of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and I support it!Thank you!