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Over $7 million paid out to displaced workers affected by the closure of the San Juan Generating Station

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions has delivered over 350 direct payments to displaced workers paid out of the Energy Transition Act (ETA) Displaced Worker Assistance Fund. The plan to provide direct assistance was developed from feedback received by the displaced workers and workers’ representatives that stated the financial strain due to the closure of the San Juan Generation Station and adjacent coal mine had been difficult.

"As we move toward a more diverse power grid in New Mexico, I promised not to leave anyone behind during the transition," said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. "This past legislative session, I made it a priority to more than double the amount of funding available for meaningful financial assistance. We will now deliver more than $27 million to the affected workers and their families in the northwest of our state.”

“We heard loud and clear from the workers that their number one need was direct financial assistance to bridge the gaps left when the plant and mine closed. We also got over 170 people connected to retraining and re-employment resources through our local Workforce Connections office,” stated Sarita Nair, Secretary of Workforce Solutions. “I am grateful to the Workforce Solutions team and our partners at the Department of Finance and Administration for getting this money out the door so soon after we took applications. This infusion of millions of dollars, over 90% of which is going to San Juan County residents, will help families and bolster the local economy.”

NMDWS began taking in person applications for the ETA Displaced Worker Assistance Fund on May 2, 2023, in Farmington New Mexico. Applications were taken from New Mexico residents who were terminated from employment, or whose contracts were terminated due to the abandonment of the San Juan Generation Station and adjacent coal mine. This included PNM San Juan Generating Station, Westmoreland San Juan Mine, AIMS, and Savage Services.

Applications are still available to individuals who worked at PNM San Juan Generating Station, Westmoreland San Juan Mine, AIMS, and Savage Services. As additional entities and workers are identified who qualify under the determining factors of House Bill 449, they will be contacted directly and asked to apply in person at the New Mexico Workforce Connection Center in Farmington.

“We are grateful that the Department of Workforce Solutions heard and listened to the message of the rank and file workers and responded accordingly,” said Shannon Fitzgerald IBEW 611 Union Representative for PNM employees. “The ETA had been designed to assist these displaced workers and there were many that opposed us. I would like to thank Secretary Nair and her staff for their work and dedication to the actual direct assistance to these workers that they need and deserve that has created a path for other states to follow. It is truly unprecedented that these workers were heard and shows the workers that Unions still have a strong voice in New Mexico.”

“On behalf of Local 953 I wish to offer my sincere thank you to Governor Michele Lujan Grisham for her continued support of the displaced workers in San Juan County; Department of Workforce Solutions Secretary, Sarita Nair and her staff for their hard work and who worked with labor and others to ensure expedited payment of the displaced worker fund,” said Union Leader Quote said Barry W. Dixon, IUOE Local 953 Union Representative for Westmoreland employees. “I also wish to give a special thank you to our Representative Anthony Allison and the rest of the San Juan legislative delegation for sponsoring HB 449 in the last legislative session which improved the eligibility for many more displaced workers who would not have been eligible for the funding. It has been a long wait for the displaced workers to receive the much-needed funding but has at last come to fruition.”

NMDWS will continue to work with the displaced workers on job search and placement including paid training opportunities through existing Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding and partnerships with educational institutions.

The ETA established the Displaced Worker Assistance Fund for New Mexico residents who were terminated from employment, or whose contracts were terminated, due to the abandonment of a New Mexico facility producing electricity that resulted in the displacement of at least 40 workers. During the 2023 legislative session, House Bill 449 expanded eligibility for the Fund by taking out the requirement that limited it to workers who had been laid off in the past year. The bill passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on March 30, 2023.
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