Help New Energy Economy Return Power to the People

Posted: Saturday, November 14, 2015 7:00 pm

I am writing in response to Steve Terrell’s piece, “Most vocal critic of PNM plans says mission is about justice” (Oct. 24), in which he profiles Mariel Nanasi, executive director of New Energy Economy. I remain unclear as to why the financials of New Energy Economy were published but not those of the Public Service Company of New Mexico. As I understand it, the top five PNM senior managers make a total of $7.5 million annually. In a seemingly parallel universe (which is actually the same universe), the average annual household income for the thousands of Native Americans living in the toxic shadow of coal plants like the San Juan Generating Station, owned and operated by PNM, is $7,200.

Climate change is no longer a research project. It is the most pressing issue of our time, and we are out of time. We must transition away from fossil fuels, period. In this regard, the work of New Energy Economy is unprecedented. No one else is holding PNM accountable for its insatiable corporate greed, its relations with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission or its veritable refusal to significantly alter its energy portfolio.

New Energy Economy’s network of national and statewide support includes indigenous, faith, environmental, social justice, youth, arts and public interest groups, as well as medical professionals, prominent scientists and journalists, tribal elders, renewable energy professionals and politicians. New Energy Economy continues to partner with community organizations such as Tewa Women United, Solace Crisis Treatment Center and Santa Fe fire station No. 9 to install solar electric systems that allow these organizations to redirect funds previously spent on utility bills back to into their communities. New Energy Economy has thus far saved New Mexico ratepayers tens of millions of dollars through its regulatory interventions.

Terrell quotes Steve Michel of Western Resource Advocates as saying that New Energy Economy is “doing all it can to obstruct and halt what many in the environmental community consider to be a very good resolution” with regard to PNM’s proposal to replace the energy capacity from the retired coal burning units at San Juan with more coal, as well as nuclear and natural gas. “A very good resolution” doesn’t change the game.

Let’s be clear. PNM is a regulated monopoly set up to protect shareholders’ interests. Habitual compromise with PNM will only secure a future of further habitual compromise, and further habitual compromise will not the planet save. New Energy Economy is setting precedent for the entire nation. It wants PNM to stop lying to its customers. It wants renewable energy and a related and robust local economy. New Energy Economy wants us all to be able to look our children and their children in the eyes.

Would anyone say that New Energy Economy exhibits “uncompromising aggressiveness” in its efforts to reduce PNM’s reliance on coal to produce electricity if Nanasi was a man and not a woman? I don’t think so. Nanasi is a change-maker, committed to literally returning power to the people. It behooves us all to get on board.

Kira Jones is a second-generation New Mexican, mother, educator activist and writer.

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