Commission approves tear down of San Juan County Generating Station

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WATERFLOW, N.M. – The San Juan County commission has approved PNM’s plan to demolish the San Juan Generating Station. With the demolition now certain, the region faces some economic hurdles.

“(San Juan Generating Station) provided power to the entire western grid of the United States,” said Nathan Duckett, Mayor of the City of Farmington.

And the loss of the plant marks an end of an era for a community reliant on the plant as an economic driver for decades. 

“At the height of its operations it had about 1,600 direct and indirect jobs associated with that, we’re talking large economic base jobs so $100,000 a year jobs that are now no longer here,” Duckett said. “That ends up costing us between taxes and what their salary bases is about $100 million of local economy.”

That’s a large void to fill.

“We continue to push forward with our initiatives here to attract people to this community who are looking for an adventurous outdoor lifestyle,” Duckett said. “But that doesn’t address the larger impact of losing that many $100,000 a year jobs.”

For example, what those jobs helped fund.

“Take into account the property taxes paid to school districts like Central Consolidated School District, that whole component has been moved out of their budget,” said Duckett.

Duckett says there’s a long way to go in recuperating the economic loss of the plant, but the community is working together on projects to hopefully make Farmington an attractive place for new employers.

“We need private investment to come in to create jobs and to grow our work force and those opportunities,” Duckett said. “From that end we are working with San Juan County and the Navajo Nation to try and get a railroad spur brought up here from Gallup, New Mexico. Which would help agriculture and manufacturing operations.”

As well as looking into other energy opportunities that the area is rich in.

The removal of the power plant is estimated to take four years to complete.