San Juan County has some very compelling infrastructure advantages that, when applied individually or together, set the stage for your business or industry’s growth and profitability.
Infrastructure advantages include very competitive regional commercial and industrial electricity prices, abundant water supply, regional freight distribution services and internet connectivity. Let the Four Corners Economic Development (4CED) team assist your business in finding the right infrastructure set to fit your business’ needs.
Abundant, Affordable Natural Gas and Electricity
For over 100 years, San Juan County has been nationally known as a center of low-cost carbon energy production. Abundant reserves and production of dry natural gas and low-sulfur coal have served as foundational drivers of San Juan County’s economy and property tax base.
Today, the San Juan Basin has over 20,000 natural gas wells. For decades, the basin has ranked as one of the most prolific in the nation. Estimated remaining reserves of natural gas suggest the possibility of decades more of production.
Industries requiring heat as a core production input will enjoy real production-cost advantages by locating to San Juan County. Petrochemical manufacturers especially are a target industry of 4CED as are other manufacturers requiring large input heat as part of their supply chain inputs.
These types of industries and manufacturers will find San Juan County has a fully developed pipeline network. Natural gas producers are eager to supply gas to local customers at some of the nation’s lowest prices. (Natural gas prices in the San Juan Basin are typically at least $1 less per MMBtu than Henry Hub prices because of the long transportation distances to larger demand centers like Houston.)
San Juan County’s coal and natural gas production sets the stage for the region’s lowest commercial and industrial electricity prices. The industrial electricity rates of the City of Farmington-owned Farmington Electric Utility System (FEUS) are 20% or more lower than rates of neighboring electricity coops in Colorado or investor-owned utilities in Albuquerque or Arizona.
FEUS produces the largest share of its electricity from locally sourced natural gas. This is supplemented with allocated production from hydroelectric dams on the Colorado river watershed and coal-fired power from the San Juan Generating Station in western San Juan County.
The San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) coal-fired electric power plant and associated mine-mouth San Juan Coal Mine are slated to close in 2022 because of decisions by its operator and the State of New Mexico.
Anticipating these decisions, the City of Farmington found and is working with Enchant Energy. Together, the partnership seeks to repurpose SJGS into a state-of-the-art commercial–scale carbon capture (CO2) utilization and sequestration facility and wholesale power generator.
These efforts could save nearly 1,600 high-paying jobs. Success would also allow SJGS to continue producing highly reliable, low-priced, near-zero carbon emission power at no additional cost to FEUS customers while preserving a sizeable percentage of San Juan County’s property base
Abundant Renewable Energy Development Opportunities
In an area with almost 300 days of high desert sunshine, the ability to develop renewable solar power has the potential to provide a boost to the local economy as well as meet the needs of certain new industrial electricity customers like “green energy” oriented data centers.
Solar energy development is being spurred by the State of New Mexico. In 2020, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted to embrace a 100 percent renewable energy and battery storage plan for the State’s largest investor-owned utility. The proposal includes 650 MW of solar resources and 300 MW of battery storage resources, with 430 MW of solar and $447 million worth of capital investments dedicated to areas within the Central Consolidated School District of San Juan County.
Continued use of natural gas and coal (with the new CO2 capability at SJGS) along with developments in solar, battery and potentially even pumped storage hydroelectric production, sets the stage for San Juan County to continue its reign as the electricity production leader in the desert southwest for the next 100 years.
Abundant Water Secured for Generations
San Juan County’s largest water utility system is owned and operated by the City of Farmington. With the combination of two-thirds of New Mexico’s total surface water flowing through San Juan County and the long-term vision of the City of Farmington, water rights sufficient to supply water consumer needs are secure. Not surprisingly, water rates are also among the lowest in New Mexico.
Transportation to Major Interstate Markets
As the largest metropolitan area in the Four Corners, the City of Farmington is centrally located via easy truck shipping to several major markets including Albuquerque, Denver, Dallas, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Over 15 large full-time over-the-road trucking companies have a presence in San Juan County.
Currently there is no rail service in San Juan County. The closest Class I railway is about 100 miles south on U.S. Highway 491 near Gallup. 4CED is aggressively working in partnership with the Navajo Nation and the State of New Mexico to build the case for a spur line to San Juan County.
Regional Air Service Alternatives
Commercial flight operations at Farmington’s Four Corners Regional Airport ceased in 2017. However, commercial air service to Denver, Dallas and Phoenix is available from the Durango-La Plata County, CO airport – about a 45-minute drive from downtown Farmington.
Taking advantage of the current lull in commercial air service, the City of Farmington has expanded the Four Corners Regional Airport’s runways and improved runway safety features to elevate the airport from a BII classification to a CII classification – setting the stage for commercial regional jet service.
Communication Networks Connecting the World
The availability of redundant interstate fiber optic trunk lines serving San Juan County positively impacts the area's average download speed of 78.68 Mbps – 24.36% faster than the New Mexico weighted average speed. Access to 100 Mbps internet speeds is available to 70% of San Juan County residents, with that number rising to 93.8% in the City of Farmington.
4CED leadership is working with officials in SW Colorado and the Navajo Nation to bring additional broadband capacity to the region and opportunities to “push out” service to the most rural areas of San Juan County and Navajo Nation.