PRC Gives PNM Keys to the Kingdom Rubberstamps PNM’s Renewable Case ruling against the Hearing Examiner’s Recommended Decision and against the public interest and NM legal standards
PNM prevailed before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for its request for 50 MW Solar Project from Affordable Solar, Inc., (“Affordable Solar”) for $44.63/MWh, an extension of its wind contract of $27.25 per MWh from 2028 to 2045 and geothermal at the Lightning Dock facility (aka Dale Burgett Geothermal Facility), for $89/MWh but with escalation to $160.98/MWh and commitment until 2042. Commissioners Jones, Lovejoy and Hall voted in favor of the ruling and Commissioner Lyons and Espinoza voted against it.
SEE THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN ARTICLE HERE
New Energy Economy is one of the strongest advocates of renewable energy in the state but was forced to oppose PNM’s solar project because PNM’s process was anti-competitive and exclusionary. “PNM was just given the keys to the kingdom – PNM can rig its procurement purchases to monopolize the market and own ALL the solar – for the sole benefit of PNM’s senior management and Wall St. shareholders. PNM’s continued ownership of ALL solar will kill solar energy business competition and damage our economy. We want to stimulate a vibrant renewable energy market and create an equal opportunity to have New Mexicans share the benefits,” said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy. “PNM’s self-dealing was just rubber-stamped by the PRC to the detriment of New Mexicans. PNM will use this golden gift as a precedent to flout the law and own all future solar as it needs replacement power when it eventually closes coal.”
PNM wanted to go with the Affordable Solar bid - because it comported to their design:
PNM constrained the bidding process to favor a PNM-owned solar project (built by Affordable Solar) on PNM land.
Because they will be collecting their 10% guaranteed profit on top of cost recover, not only for the resource, but ON THE LAND! The Hearing Examiner rightfully found that the evidence of the case pointed to an unfair and unnecessarily expensive process.
Yet Commissioners Lovejoy, Jones, and Hall, completely failed to consider the evidence. Commissioner Jones admitted during the discussion that he was relying on his own knowledge not evidence in the case when making his decision, a clear violation of the law. Jones’ Order also recommended NOT including a cost effectiveness standard for procurement decisions, another clear violation of the law. But even PNM admits and testified that the cost effective standard IS the law: “PNM has a duty to negotiate the lowest reasonable cost and to select the most cost-effective alternative among comparable alternatives.”
What’s also a fact is that the Commission has repeatedly approved the cost effective standard.
The Hearing Examiner specifically found: “The Hearing Examiner agrees with the opponents that PNM failed to show, as required, that the Affordable Solar Project is PNM's most cost effective solar resource procurement among available alternatives because the 2017 RFP process did not give PPA bidders a fair opportunity to participate and compete.” P.11.
“What’s the point of having Hearing Examiners who actually listen to and read all the evidence when the Commissioners make their decision based on political factors not the facts of the case,” questioned Nanasi.
New Energy Economy will be filing a request for reconsideration -- in hopes that the Commission will realize the illegal nature of their ruling and avoid the costs of a Supreme Court Appeal.
You can help by calling the Commissioners who voted in support of the illegal Order, expressing your alarm and outrage, and asking them to reverse their decision - to protect ratepayers from inflated costs and support competition & transparency.
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