Tri-State to close

“We really, really, need to hold together,” New Mexico State Representative Harry Garcia said.

PREWITT, N.M. – The Escalante Power Generating Station is located in Prewitt, New Mexico and serves both McKinley and Cibola County. The site, which provides over 100 jobs to the communities, is now going to close. The announcement was made in the early morning of Jan. 9, and their employees were notified. Tri-State is also shuddering operations in Colorado

Tri-State, who owns and operates the facility, said that they will be giving out a $5 million local community support package to try and help with the facility. The Cibola Citizen reached out to officials at Escalante and Tri-State but have not heard back. In response to the the shuddering of Tri-State’s operations, Colorado Governor Jared Pollis said the move was “exciting,” as it would lower emissions.

Officials at McKinley Paper, who purchase the majority of their steam from Escalante, said that the closing of Escalante, “should have no affect” on operations.

For more and updated information on this event please pick up a copy of next week’s Cibola Citizen.

Here is the reaction from local community leaders:

Rep. Harry Garcia

New Mexico State Representative and Cibola County business owner Harry Garcia said “This is no one’s fault. All of these renewables are taking over the industry. We need to make sure we don’t start pointing fingers.”

“The generating station is gone – it’s going away – we need to save our community,” the representative said. He said that Representative Patty Lundstrom from Gallup is working on legislation to address the shutting down of this facility, and that “I can’t give details – I don’t want to quote on something that I’m unsure of.

“The reality is, this caught everybody off guard, there is stuff in the works, but I just can’t comment on it,” Rep. Garcia added.

Rep. Garcia said that the closing of Escalante will eventually have an affect on McKinley Paper and that he will try and work with other legislators and leaders to help the business.

“We really, really, need to hold together,” Representative Garcia said.

N.M. Rep. Eliseo Lee Alcon, N.M. Senator Clemente Sanchez and N.M. Sen. George Munoz were unavailable for comment or didn’t respond to the Cibola Citizen’s request for comment.

County Chairman Danny Torrez

Cibola County Commission Chairman Danny Torrez said that there is not currently a plan in place to recuperate the jobs lost at Escalante. There is a Cibola County Board of Commissioners meeting at 5 p.m. on Jan. 9 where Torrez said they will address the job loss.

Torrez was asked if there was a plan in place to try and help the employees of Escalante and to keep people in Cibola, he replied, “not as far as I’m aware of.”

“This ain’t no way to start the year,” Torrez said, “we’re trying to put plans in place to make jobs … we’re still on step one.” The chairman added, “things have to fall in place before we an take the next step.

“This is the direction the governor is headed in,” Torrez said.

City of Grants Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks

Grants City Mayor Modey Hicks said, “I’ve been telling people this was going to happen for years now,” the mayor said.

When asked what was going to happen to the community now, he said, “I have no clue.”

Tri-State said in a press release that there are 107 employees that will be affected by this closure, to whit the mayor responded, “its more than that. You have to think about the other jobs – contractors, and other staff.” The mayor suspects that the total number of people that are going to lose their job is closer to 150, he did mention that that his estimation does not include the families of these employees.

The mayor made mention that the only way to stop this is to “stop voting Democrat,” and said that the governor promised green jobs for the community, “where are these new green jobs?” He asked.

Hicks stated that McKinley Paper will more than likely be affected by the closing of Escalante, which will only hurt the communities more.

Hicks said that for the foreseeable future, things look bleak and that the City of Grants will continue to operate for as long as it can.

Village of Milan Mayor Felix Gonzales

Village mayor Felix Gonzales said that he spoke with representatives from Tri-State who said they will work with employees to help them out during this transition period.

“This is bad news for our area,” he said adding, “this is going to affect everyone – I don’t know what the whole impact will be at this time.”

Gonzales said that he is unaware of any current plans to recoup the job losses from this closure.

U.S. Representative Xochitl Torres Small

The office of Representative Xochitl Torres Small said that they will have a statement from the congresswoman’s desk sometime tomorrow as she is currently wrapped up in meetings dealing with the war powers resolution and that getting a statement from her before the end of the day would be difficult, if not impossible.

The congresswoman’s office did acknowledge the struggle this closure will out on the community.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

The office of Michelle Lujan Grisham informed the Citizen that all of their people are in meetings today and tomorrow and will be unavailable to comment, shortly after sending this statement:

“’The Governor cares deeply about an economy that works for everyone, and that means we have to do everything in our power to help the workers and communities affected by this closure,’ said Department of Workforce Solutions Cabinet Secretary Bill McCamley. ‘Our team will be in contact with local officials and worker representatives in the upcoming week to see exactly what their needs are and provide career pathways for everyone that needs help.’

“‘We will work with Tri-state to identify how they will replace the power lost at the plant with clean sources of energy,” said Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Sarah Cottrell Propst. “New Mexico is a leader in clean energy production and we strongly recommend that replacement resources be sited in the affected community whenever possible.’

“The Governor and her staff will be giving this critical situation their utmost attention, and will be proactive and aggressive in helping workers and other community members transition to other areas of economic growth.” [sic.]

Cibola Citizen

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Grants, NM 87020

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