Reader View: PRC needs to look out for consumers

I read an interesting article by Steve Terrell (“Most vocal critic of PNM plans says her mission is about justice,” Oct. 25) regarding the ongoing dispute between the Public Regulation Commission and numerous interveners in Public Service Company of New Mexico’s San Juan project.

I was one of many interveners in a Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Inc. rate case in Taos. About 600 members of the cooperative protested a rate increase — Kit Carson Electric wanted a 100 percent increase to its customer charge and a nontraditional way of implementing the rate structure. We filed our protest in fall 2010, and it took over a year for the commission to complete the hearing process. In the end, we got most of what we wanted, but we didn’t get the most important thing, and that was to separate the broadband business from the electric backbone of the company. We are still looking to separate these two businesses.

I have not been a party to the ongoing hearings in Santa Fe regarding the current plans for the San Juan Generating Station, so I can’t comment on the merits of the case. What I can say is that it appears to me that the commission members, specifically Patrick Lyons, are too chummy with the entities that they regulate.

Whether it is the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative or PNM and its San Juan plant, it appears to this customer that there has to be a better way of ensuring that our financial interests are protected. I am very glad that the New Mexico Supreme Court has agreed to take a look at what’s going on at the Public Regulation Commission. I for one thought that when minimum requirements were established to be a member of the PRC, it would make a difference. Obviously I was wrong.

Jerome Lucero is a retired electrical engineer who worked for the Public Service Company of Colorado in Denver for 20 years as a direct employee and 61/2 years as a contractor for subsidiaries of the company. He is a concerned citizen who would like to try to improve the way in which electric utilities are regulated.

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