On one of the hottest days this summer, Los Alamos County nearly ran out of power.
The coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington unexpectedly went down, leaving the Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities scrambling to make up the energy. Several other providers were unable to deliver power to the county for various reasons, including transmission line constraints.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, the people I work with have never seen anything like this,” said Los Alamos Power Network Manager Jordan Garcia during a Board of Public Utilities meeting in August. “We were all on our own to make up that difference.”
All said and done, the county paid over a million dollars over a couple of days to keep the lights—and the air conditioning—on for its customers. The San Juan Generating Station is coal-fired—considered the most “reliable” energy sources because it can deliver the same amount of power all day every day, as long as it has coal to burn. But as states increasingly adopt clean energy mandates, and more renewables come online, utility managers fear more incidents like this one may occur more frequently.
The electricity markets in the west are changing, and that could further strain the county’s access to reliable power.
This story was originally published and produced by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Standing next to a 12-foot nuclear bomb that looks more like a trim missile than a weapon of mass destruction, engineer Phil Hoover exudes pride. “I feel a real sense of accomplishment,” he said. He and fellow engineers at Sandia National Laboratories have spent the past few years designing, building and testing the top-secret electronic and mechanical innards of the sophisticated B61-12. Later, when nuclear explosives are added at the federal Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, the bomb will have a maximum explosive force equivalent to 50,000 tons of TNT – more than three times more powerful than the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, 70 years ago this August that killed more than 130,000 people.
The two members of the U.S. Senate from New Mexico, both Democrats, support a deal on nuclear weapons with Iran announced by President Barack Obama Tuesday morning. “Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” Obama said in remarks on Tuesday morning. “Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.” The agreement came after negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a former member of the Senate, and a representative from Iran. Britain, China, France and Russia—which make up the other four members of the United Nations Security Council permanent members—as well as Germany were also involved. The deal has already been heavily criticized by Republicans, including those running for president.