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Workers displaced by San Juan Generating Station closure receive direct payments

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(The Center Square) – The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions provided more than 350 payments to displaced workers via the Energy Transition Act (ETA) Displaced Worker Assistance Fund.

The payments exceed $7 million combined and help workers displaced by the closure of the San Juan Generating Station.

“As we move toward a more diverse power grid in New Mexico, I promised not to leave anyone behind during the transition,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a press release this week. “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.”

Secretary of Workforce Solutions Sarita Nair said the funding will help bolster the local economy as workers undergo job re-training and look to enter other lines of work.

“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,” Nair said. “We also got over 170 people connected to retraining and re-employment resources through our local Workforce Connections office. 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 started taking applications for the ETA Displaced Worker Assistance Fund in early May.

Applications came from those who lost their jobs and those whose contracts were terminated due to the station and adjacent coal mine being abandoned.

People who worked at PNM San Juan Generating Station, Westmoreland San Juan Mine, AIMS, and Savage Services can still apply for assistance. They must 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,” Shannon Fitzgerald, IBEW 611 Union Representative for PNM employees, said in the release. “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.”

NMDWS plans to continue working with displaced workers on finding new jobs and capitalizing on the existing Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which partners with educational institutions.

The ETA created the Displaced Worker Assistance Fund for New Mexico residents who lost their jobs at electricity-producing facilities that displaced more than 40 workers.

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