Home electric bills would rise by as much as 9 percent under a state Public Regulation Commission decision Wednesday on Public Service Company of New Mexico’s latest rate request. But the chief operating officer of PNM, which wanted a 15.8 percent increase, said she expects the state’s largest utility will appeal the decision. And New Energy Economy, a renewable-energy advocacy group that intervened in the case, also announced plans to appeal the decision, but for different reasons.Read more
In 2013, the Public Service Company of New Mexico purchased 64.1 megawatts of nuclear generation facilities (Unit 2) at the nearly 30-year-old Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona, executed a 15-year coal supply agreement for the nearly 50-year-old Four Corners Power Plant on a “take or pay” basis (requires coal purchases whether power plant operates or not), and purchased unnecessary “balanced draft” environmental controls for the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station, all without any prior review or approval from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. Now, three years later, PNM is seeking PRC approval to bail out PNM for these purchases and increase customer rates to pay for them. If the PRC approves, PNM will transfer all costs and risks associated with these purchases to us, its customers. In requesting this approval, PNM has provided no showing of need for additional “base load” (24-seven) electricity and no showing of benefit to ratepayers, as required by New Mexico law and regulations.Read more
Late last year the state of New Mexico edged up to what might have turned into a constitutional crisis. And last week a committee of state legislators began discussing possible solutions to avoid such a crisis in the future. The situation in question was the Supreme Court’s hearing last November of a petition filed by New Energy Economy asking the court to remove four of the Public Regulation Commission’s five commissioners in the controversial case concerning the San Juan Generating Station for alleged conflicts of interest, bias and improper interactions with Public Service Company of New Mexico. The court, following oral arguments, rejected the petitions, and the four commissioners — Pat Lyons, R-Cuervo, Karen Montoya, D-Albuquerque, Lynda Lovejoy, D-Crownpoint, and Sandy Jones, D-Williamsburg — were allowed to stay on the case. As expected, they voted the next month to approve PNM’s San Juan plan to close two of the four coal-burning units.Read more
The state Public Regulation Commission said Wednesday it will issue within 30 days a decision on a request by the state’s largest electric utility to raise consumers’ rates this fall, after nearly all parties in the case objected to reopening hearings. The Public Service Company of New Mexico proposed a 15.8 percent rate hike earlier this year to cover its investments in nuclear power and energy-efficiency measures. In early August, Carolyn Glick, a hearing examiner for the commission, recommended instead a 6 percent increase, saying PNM hadn’t justified the higher rate. Commissioners offered to reopen the case so that PNM could present more evidence on why it needed the bigger increase, but the utility and other groups involved in the case objected to dragging it out further.Read more
The state’s largest utility company said Monday it doesn’t want another hearing on its request for a 15.8 percent increase in electricity rates because it’s already established that the hike is justified. Public Service Company of New Mexico said it has provided sufficient evidence to prevail in its case before the five-member state Public Regulation Commission. Intervening parties also said the case should not be reopened, though they disagreed that the company should receive so high a rate increase.
That’s the word Public Service Company of New Mexico executive Ron Darnell used to describe the company’s reaction to a regulatory recommendation handed down last week, which slashed the company’s rate hike request by two-thirds.
The recommended decision, by New Mexico Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner Caroline Glick, rejected the utility’s request for an increase of $123.5 million in annual revenues in favor of a dramatically reduced increase of $41.3 million. The PRC is expected to hand down a decision Aug. 31.
PNM’s request for $123.5 million in new revenue would mean a rate hike of about 15.8 percent for residential customers. However, hearing examiner Carolyn Glick last week recommended a $41.3 million revenue increase — about a third of what the utility seeks. Glick’s proposal would mean a 6 percent rate increase.Read more