Clean Path Energy Center Overview

The Challenge

Over the past decade, the federal government, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and with the collaboration of regulatory agencies in many western states, regulations, laws and goals have been established to identify ways to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gas pollution and the effects of climate change. In New Mexico, to this end, the New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED) and Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) have also been actively involved in the transformation of the Four Corners energy landscape. PNM, as operator of the 1,800 MW San Juan Generating Station, recently announced an agreement with EPA and NMED to permanently retire 894 MW at San Juan Generating Station by December 31, 2017. Other coal-fired plants in the region including the 2,250 MW Navajo Generating Station in Page, Arizona and the 1,800 MW Intermountain Power Plant in Delta, Utah, are also expected to be retiring significant amounts of capacity in the near to mid-range future.

The end result of these retirements will be the loss of well over 3,000 MW of electrical generating capacity that needs to be replaced by clean, reliable and cost effective generation resources.

That is where the Clean Path Energy Center comes into play to meet this significant challenge. The project will provide important new and environmentally responsible generating capacity along with creating new jobs and investment in San Juan County and the region.

The Opportunity

Modernizing and replacing the power generation resources in the Four Corners region that have served the West for over 50 years represents a significant challenge to utilities, regulators and power plant developers.

And time is a critical factor.

With coal plant retirements and divestitures already well underway and slated to be largely completed by the mid-2020s, it is imperative that Clean Path and other projects in the region be developed and built in a timely manner so that overall electrical system reliability can be maintained throughout the West.

The Clean Path Energy Center represents one of the key building blocks in helping assure that the Four Corners region will continue to play a vital role in powering the economy of the West well into the 21st century. Clean Path is being designed to be a true showcase project not only for the region, but for the nation as well. It will serve as model for efficient, sustainable and environmentally responsible power generation for future generations of consumers.

The Project

The following are the key facts about the Clean Path Energy Center:

  • Clean Path Energy Center is a uniquely designed and ideally located combination of a traditional 680 MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) co-located with a renewable 70 MW Solar Photovoltaic project. The project will be capable of providing essential baseload generation during all hours of the year as well as additional vital peaking capacity during times of higher system loads.
  • Clean Path Energy Center will be connected to the electrical transmission grid at the nearby Shiprock Substation operated by the Western Area Power Administration (Western). The new transmission line to interconnect the project will be less than two miles in total length. Clean Path will receive natural gas by connecting to the San Juan Hub through existing pipelines owned by the El Paso Natural Gas Company. The project will serve as an important and large new customer for local gas production in the region.
  • Clean Path Energy Center will take full advantage of the recent and dramatic advances in CCGT design and technology. The project is being designed to be the most efficient gas fired plant in the entire western U.S.
  • Clean Path Energy Center will be capable of exceptionally fast ramping rates to help integrate the growing amount of intermittent renewable generation that is being installed across the West.
  • Clean Path Energy Center will be designed to meet the most stringent air permitting standards and be among the cleanest natural gas fired plants in the U.S. Given the project’s world-class efficiency and solar PV component, comparative CO2 and other emissions per kilowatt-hour of electrical production will be amongst the lowest in North America.
  • Clean Path Energy Center will create approximately 800 jobs during the construction phase and at least 30 full time family wage positions when it is operational.
  • Clean Path Energy Center will employ an innovative hybrid air and water cooling system which will serve to minimize project water use.
  • Clean Path Energy Center will be located on a 635-acre privately-owned land parcel that has been historically utilized for cattle ranching. No cultivated agricultural land will need to be removed from production.
  • Clean Path Energy Center will undergo a comprehensive public permitting review process including an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) air permit, as well as other related local, state and federal agency reviews and approvals.