Although less than 2 percent of water in New Mexico is used for producing electricity, it takes a significant amount of water to cool power plants.


Electricity generation uses water, whether the power comes from hydroelectricity, coal, natural gas, nuclear and biofuels. The gathering, purification and distribution of water also uses a significant amount of energy, especially in the West where water often travels in pipes many miles to its destination.

PNM residential customers use an average of 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month and it takes about 300 gallons of water per month to generate that electricity per customer. To put that into perspective, the per capita water use in Albuquerque is around 150 gallons per day.

Water is a precious resource everywhere, but with New Mexico’s arid climate its importance is magnified. Water is critical to sustained economic development and the quality of life in our state. Since 2002, PNM has reduced the amount of water used per kilowatt-hour by 25 percent. We’ve accomplished this through the addition of new resources and continuous conservation efforts at existing power sources. The efforts include:

  • New Renewable Energy Resources: PNM’s renewable energy resources – solar, wind, and geothermal – generates the equivalent power used by 134,000 average homes. Except for some minor water use during construction, these renewable resources do not use any water for their daily operations.
  • Energy Efficiency: PNM successfully implemented energy efficiency programs in 2007 and since then, our customers have saved more than 1.5 billion kilowatt-hours, with an equivalent savings of more than 481 million gallons of water.
  • PNM Facilities and Process Improvement:
    • City of Deming gray water at Luna Energy Facility reduces freshwater
      use by one-third.
    • Parallel cooling at the Afton Generating Station saves between 40 and 70 percent of freshwater consumption.
    • New cooling towers at the San Juan Generating Station condense
      turbine steam, allowing water to be reused up to 15 times. In some plant processes, water is reused as many as 50 to 100 times before it ultimately evaporates.
    • PNM’s plan to retire two units at the San Juan Generating Station will cut water usage at the plant by about 50 percent.