El Paso Electric, community advocates reach agreement regarding Newman Unit 6

An agreement between El Paso Electric and community advocates may lead to cleaner air in the southern part of New Mexico while allowing the utility to construct a new unit at a natural gas generating facility in west Texas.  The settlement agreement between the utility and the Chaparral Community Coalition for Health and the Environment […]

El Paso Electric, community advocates reach agreement regarding Newman Unit 6

An agreement between El Paso Electric and community advocates may lead to cleaner air in the southern part of New Mexico while allowing the utility to construct a new unit at a natural gas generating facility in west Texas. 

The settlement agreement between the utility and the Chaparral Community Coalition for Health and the Environment as well as the Sierra Club comes as EPE seeks an air permit to construct Unit 6 at the Newman Generating Station, which is a natural gas power plant located in Texas near the New Mexico state line.

“The permit will authorize EPE to begin construction of the state-of-the-art 228 megawatt natural gas replacement unit necessary to meet our customers’ growing energy needs,” EPE said in a statement. “Newman Unit 6 will allow for the inevitable decommissioning of older generating units.”

The Chaparral Community Coalition for Health and the Environment and the Sierra Club opposed the construction of Unit 6, but have agreed to withdraw their legal challenge of the air permit following the agreement.

“We do not want Newman 6. But if it’s going to be built anyway, it’s better built with this settlement than without it,” said former Doña Ana County Commissioner David Garcia, a Chaparral resident, in a press release. “Newman 6 will now pollute our community less than it would have otherwise, and EPE will pay into a fund to support the community they are impacting.”

The agreement prevents EPE from building any new fossil fuel generating units for four years, with limited exceptions, and prohibits the future construction of any subsequent units at the Newman Generating Station once Unit 6 is constructed.

“After Unit 6 is completed, El Paso Electric committed to no new fossil fuel generation at Newman ever again,” said Antoinette Reyes from the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. “While we are far from attaining a 100 percent clean and renewable grid, this settlement brings us that much closer while also giving a traditionally marginalized community of color a fighting chance.”

The agreement also requires EPE to begin decommissioning of two natural gas units built before the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970.

It also requires EPE to provide funding to address volatile organic compound pollution in El Paso County in Texas. Volatile organic compounds can react with oxides of nitrogen and sunlight to form ozone and pollution in Texas can cause smog in New Mexico.

EPE is also required to create a fund to support communities impacted by pollution and to mitigate the local effects of the pollution from the Newman Generating Station, including Chaparral.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has prohibited EPE from selling power generated at Newman Unit 6 to New Mexico customers.

“This agreement is an important step towards achieving cleaner air in El Paso, even though far more needs to be done to reduce emissions in the El Paso area,” said David Baake, a Las Cruces-based attorney who represented the advocacy groups in challenging the Newman 6 air permit, in a press release. “We have forced El Paso Electric to substantially reduce dangerous emissions and to commit to a moratorium on fossil fuel development–a historic achievement that can and should serve as a precedent for utilities across the country. But as long as El Paso Electric continues to run any of its fossil fuel units, our community will continue to suffer. The next step is for EPE to commit to achieving 100% clean energy–and we will keep fighting to make sure it does.”

EPE stated that Newman Unit 6 will use natural gas more efficiently and will reduce the utility’s water consumption by 600 million gallons annually, which is about the amount of water needed for 12,000 households.

“The continued development of our region has increased customer demand for energy by about 2 percent per year and Newman Unit 6 is essential to keep pace with our region’s growth,” EPE stated.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Thursday his legislative priorities for July’s special legislative session, including the creation of a crime victim’s unit to…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
Environmental historian reflects on the legacies of Aldo Leopold and the Gila Wilderness

Environmental historian reflects on the legacies of Aldo Leopold and the Gila Wilderness

One hundred years ago, conservationist Aldo Leopold proposed designating 500,000 acres of land in the Gila National Forest as an area where no roads…

A rare NM lizard is now listed as endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the dunes sagebrush lizard to the list of endangered species on Friday and is expected to designate…
Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

The U.S. Department of Interior announced $520 million in funding for 57 projects throughout the United States to improve water infrastructure and drought resiliency…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

A recent study found that in the 20 years since Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to grant same-sex marriage licenses, same-sex…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

By Justin Horwath, NM In Depth It’s a safe bet Democrats will barrel into 2025 with their supremacy intact at the New Mexico Legislature.…
Environmental historian reflects on the legacies of Aldo Leopold and the Gila Wilderness

Environmental historian reflects on the legacies of Aldo Leopold and the Gila Wilderness

One hundred years ago, conservationist Aldo Leopold proposed designating 500,000 acres of land in the Gila National Forest as an area where no roads…
Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

A recent study found that in the 20 years since Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to grant same-sex marriage licenses, same-sex…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report