New Mexico Supreme Court Upholds Denial of Utility's Attempt to Increase Mine Owner's Stake in Four Corners Coal Plant

July 6, 2023: Today, the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected Public Service Company of New Mexico's ("PNM") attempt to resurrect its proposal to transfer its interest in the Four Corners coal plant to NTEC, the company that owns the mine supplying coal to Four Corners.  In 2022, PNM filed an application with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to transfer its interest in Four Corners to NTEC.  Through discovery, Sierra Club obtained documents in which NTEC stated that its reason for wanting to acquire PNM's share of Four Corners was to burn coal as long as possible and thwart any efforts to close Four Corners.  NTEC persuaded PNM to amend contracts so that the other utility owners of Four Corners would have to pay financial penalties to NTEC if they were to close the Plant early.  PNM also sought to prevent the Commission from reviewing the reasonableness of hundreds of millions of dollars that PNM had spent at Four Corners, which has proven to be a highly expensive and unreliable coal plant.  

Sierra Club opposed the transfer of PNM's share in Four Corners to NTEC because it would have prolonged the burning of coal at Four Corners, made it more difficult to close the plant, and forced ratepayers to bear the cost of PNM's imprudent spending at Four Corners.  The Commission sided with Sierra Club and cited Sierra Club's testimony in denying PNM's application.  PNM then appealed the Commission's decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court.  On July 6, the Court rejected PNM's appeal and affirmed the Commission's decision in its entirety.  

Sierra Club was represented by in-house counsel Matthew Gerhart.  Sierra Club's technical advisor Dr. Jeremy Fisher provided expert testimony in the case.