N.M. Supreme Court to hear new evidence by group opposing PNM’s coal energy plan

New evidence on the relationship between coal power generation and climate change will be admitted in a state Supreme Court case centering on the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s plan to replace the power from two of four units at a coal plant in San Juan County that the utility is preparing to shut down. On Monday, the city of Santa Fe, along with 37 other New Mexico environmental groups, regional politicians and tribal representatives, submitted a 35-pageamicus curiae, or “friend of the court” brief, supporting a renewable energy advocacy group’s appeal of state regulators’ decision to approve the power plan because it continues to rely heavily on coal power.

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Seller's Market

Lawsuit charges PNM’s effort to purchase nuclear power leases locks ratepayers into a bad deal.

January 27, 2016,
By Elizabeth Miller

We learned some unhappy lessons in the wake of the recession: namely, don’t pay more for something, like a house, than it will be worth when the next bubble bursts.

Those can be tough cards to read, of course, and very few people recognized the toxic assets poisoning our economy to the tune of 8 million lost jobs and 6 million lost homes as they approached. But a recently filed lawsuit raises questions as to whether the Public Service Company of New Mexico is making just that kind of deal.

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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.

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Despite concerns, high court allows full PRC vote on coal plant

Posted: Monday, November 9, 2015 9:00 pm | Updated: 11:28 am, Tue Nov 10, 2015.

All five state Public Regulation Commission members will be allowed to decide on whether Public Service Company of New Mexico can go ahead with plans for the coal-burning San Juan Generating Station, the state Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The high court ruled against a petition by New Energy Economy, a clean-energy advocacy group, that sought to remove four of the elected commissioners from the San Juan case for alleged bias in favor of the state’s largest utility company. The group alleged that some commissioners have engaged in improper “ex parte” communications with PNM during the course of the San Juan case and that some had made public statements that New Energy claimed were evidence the commissioners had already made up their minds in favor of PNM.

While the court ruled against New Energy, Chief Justice Barbara Vigil seemed to admonish the commissioners when, immediately before announcing the decision, she quoted from a 1999 opinion by a former justice, the late Pamela Minzner, in a case concerning the former state Corporations Commission, a predecessor of the current regulatory commission.

“Comments by a commissioner which constitute prejudgment may constitutionally taint any subsequent hearing so as to invalidate the ensuing order of the commission,” Minzner wrote.

If the San Juan case ends up back in the court system on appeal, Vigil said, the commission will face “heightened scrutiny” over actions taken regarding the aging power plant. Vigil said the justices found that “issues raised in the petition are important concerns.”


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Court Denies Petition in NM Power Plant Case

November 9, 2015 Updated: November 9, 2015 6:21pm
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition that sought to disqualify members of one of the state's most powerful regulatory panels from deciding the future of a coal-fired power plant.
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Reader View: PNM must use more renewables

Posted: Saturday, October 31, 2015 7:00 pm

New Mexico has an immediate opportunity to promote public health, preserve the state’s natural resources and achieve significant economic development and environmental benefits.

The Public Regulation Commission can take a significant step toward realizing those goals by requiring Public Service Company of New Mexico to move rapidly toward greater reliance on renewable energy sources. I support the position of New Energy Economy that the current proposal for New Mexico’s energy future being considered by the PRC does not go far enough or fast enough

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Reader View: PRC can help combat climate change

As Justin Gillis wrote on Oct. 22, “2015 likely to be the hottest year,” temperatures are hotter than last year’s record setting-levels, and 2015 has been the hottest year in the historical record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s report recently released.

This undermines any claims that global warming has somehow stopped. Year after year, it is clear that global warming and climate change are happening right here, right now. Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a town hall meeting that more governmental agencies needed to get on board and “have a national commitment to do something about climate change.” In that speech, Clinton specifically identified the Federal Regulatory Commission as a necessary partner in such a national effort. She said, “It’s not just the EPA that needs to be focused on combating climate change.”

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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.

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Reader View: PNM uses sleight of hand to increase profits, rates

Posted: Saturday, October 31, 2015 7:00 pm

Public Service Company of New Mexico had the highest residential electricity rates in New Mexico in 2014. Why?

Public regulated utilities, such as PNM, are allowed to make a profit on the assets that they own. In the case of PNM, it is allowed to make 11.4 percent pre-tax profit on its asset base (rate-base). Thus, to set electricity rates for its customers, PNM adds up all of its asset values at the end of the year; 11.4 percent of that asset value is the profit that it can claim.

So, the more assets that PNM has on its books, the more profit the company will make. PNM does not have much incentive to produce more energy with fewer assets, as normal competitive businesses do. In fact, it has every incentive to increase its assets for the same amount of energy. We pay our regulators, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, to make sure that all costs are reasonable and prudent.
There are multiple ways that PNM can increase its profit (and therefore our rates) without benefiting its customers. I will discuss one of them — its sleight of hand with its asset base — and describe several recent examples.
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New Energy Economy's Petition to the NM Supreme Court

For a PDF copy of the Writ ClICK HERE.

Most Vocal Critic of PNM plans says mission is about Justice

Most Vocal Critic of PNM plans says mission is about Justice

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Reader view: Secret Energy: Public or Private

Secret Energy: Public or Private?

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$215K approved for PRC officials' defense in San Juan case

The PRC has approved the spending of nearly $215,000 to represent four PRC commissioners in the bias case going before the New Mexico supreme court

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Hearing Summary

The second evidentiary hearing for the Replacement Power case is coming to a close and we want to share an update of what's happened so far.

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Group asks high court to keep 4 PRC members out of San Juan vote

By Steve Terrell The New Mexican | 

An advocacy group on Monday filed a lawsuit asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to disqualify four of the five Public Regulation Commission members from voting on a utility company’s plans for the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington.

Santa Fe-based New Energy Economy said it has evidence that the four commissioners — Karen Montoya, D-Albuquerque; Patrick Lyons, R-Cuervo; Sandy Jones, D-Williamsburg; and Lynda Lovejoy, D-Crownpoint — are too cozy with Public Service Company of New Mexico.

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Group accuses PNM of using bad data to back San Juan plan

Posted: Friday, September 25, 2015 9:00 pm | Updated: 10:27 pm, Fri Sep 25, 2015.

By Steve Terrell
The New Mexican | 

An advocacy group for alternative energy charged Friday that the Public Service Company of New Mexico has “fabricated” numbers about higher demand for electricity and used a “fictitious baseline” in its efforts to win approval for an operations plan at the San Juan Generating Station.

The group, New Energy Economy, contends that PNM relied on bad numbers in a computer modeling program to try to convince the state Public Regulation Commission and the public at large that using primarily nuclear power from an Arizona plant and coal power from the San Juan plant near Farmington would cost less than solar and wind power.

Mariel Nanasi, executive director of New Energy Economy, says she believes PNM is manipulating the numbers to justify its request for more coal and nuclear power so it can pass on costs of the San Juan Generating Station and the Palo Verde nuclear plant to its ratepayers.

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New Energy Economy's Testimony in Opposition to the Revised Stipulation

New Energy Economy filed the testimony of our four experts who challenge the merits of the Revised Stipulation and provide proof of the financial, environmental, and health superiority of alternative scenarios.

David Van Winkle's Testimony, financial and technical arguments against the Revised Stipulation and in support of 3 alternatives

Ron Lehr's Testimony, former Colorado PUC Commissioner testifies to availability of alternatives

Patrick Luckow Testimony, energy modeling expert challenging PNM's proposal and supporting alternatives

Mike McCally Testimony, health expert


Too Cozy with PNM? Four PRC Commissioners shouldn't be allowed to rule on San Juan power plan

On July 7, 2014, Public Service Company of New Mexico’s liaison with state regulators emailed a lobbyist who manages the company’s political action committee, asking for a donation to Tim Eichenberg’s campaign for state treasurer. In a follow-up email, the liaison, Mary Collins, said she’d met with state Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya that morning, “and she asked.”

About a month later, the PAC contributed $1,000 to Democrat Eichenberg.

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PRC OKs PNM deal with environmental groups; vote on coal plant expected by year’s end

The state Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday formally accepted an agreement between Public Service Company of New Mexico and three environmental groups regarding the utility’s proposal for a coal plant — and set a new timetable for a final vote on long-debated plans for the plant.

Mariel Nanasi of New Energy Economy — an environmental group that did not sign on to the recent compromise — said after the meeting that the commission ignored her request to delay the hearing until Oct. 19. She said that’s evidence that the commission is putting approval of the San Juan project on the fast track. The order approved Wednesday says an expert would be allowed to testify for New Energy Economy on Oct. 19 if he is unavailable Oct. 13.

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