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Energy Transition Act: NEE Proposed Amendments - Join Us for a Webinar Thursdays 2/21 at 5:30pm

Join us for a Webinar Thursday, 2/21, 5:30pm - NEE proposed changes to SB 489, "Energy Transition Act" to transform it from a PNM Bailout to a bill that adequately protects ratepayers, our communities, and the environment.

SB 489 will be heard in Senate Conservation Committee at 10AM on Saturday morning, February 23, 2019 in room 322 of the State Capitol. Be There!

Senate Bill 489, the Energy Transition Act has generated a tremendous amount of interest at the 2019 legislature. You've probably seen the social media and TV ads, fact sheets, and promotional emails about this bill - there's a whole lot of money being spent to get this bill passed.

As always, it's our job to take a closer look - to equip New Mexicans with a critical analysis and make sure we've done everything we can to ensure that as coal closes we are not creating unintended consequences for our environment, impacted communities, and our democracy.

New Energy Economy as well as consumer advocates, grassroots organizations, indigenous leaders, and the NM Public Regulation Commission have sounded the alarm on the need for essential amendments that have been shared with sponsors, the Governor, and the coalition of environmental organizations supporting the bill. Given that negotiations for the current draft bill included significant contributions from PNM, the need to review the bill with a critical eye toward consumer, indigenous rights, and environmental protections is imperative. As we all know so well, when the utilities are helping to write our laws, the devil is in the details.

Several national securitization experts brought to New Mexico by our new PRC to analyze the proposed bill have called SB 489 "unprecedented" because it is the only securitization bill in the country that allows PNM, the regulated entity, to define and set the amount of recoverable cost for itself. Those experts also decried a number of other elements of the bill that remove PRC authority to the detriment of ratepayers. These experts provided a presentation, which you can watch HERE (starting at 10:08) that concluded with a strong caution against this bill unless consumer protections were inserted.

Join us for a webinar on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 5:30PM to go over the changes we propose for SB 489. CLICK HERE to register.

On February 18, 2019, we delivered proposed amendment language to Governor Lujan Grisham, the bill sponsors, and the network of environmental organizations who are leading the campaign to pass this bill. We have flagged the problematic language and offered edits to address these dangerous oversights.

For example, right now the bill will make it possible for PNM to move forward with its plans to build new gas plants and acquire new nuclear - by removing PRC oversight. We hope the amendments will be given fair and thorough consideration and adopted so that we can change our position to one of support.

We believe that incorporation of these amendments will take this bill from a bailout bill to one that adequately protects ratepayers, frontline communities, and the environment. Our overall request is that the PRC's Constitutional responsibility to regulate, consistent with New Mexico Supreme Court law is protected.

Consumer Protections → Maintaining Public Regulation Commission Authority → Guarantee Competitive Procurement of energy resources.

Summary of our amendments to ensure that:

1. Includes consultation with, and benefits for, impacted indigenous communities.
2. Independent power producers get a fair shake so we can open up the market to build a robust renewable energy market. Competitive procurement results in lower replacement power procurement costs to PNM's customers and especially protects low-income consumers who are especially vulnerable to high energy costs.
3. Ratepayers are protected for mine reclamation and plant decommissioning. Either the utility ensures that there will be no further financial responsibility for these costs from ratepayers or it is removed from the bill and only addressed after a full hearing at the Commission.
4. Maintains PRC's regulatory authority and discretion under existing law to approve resources only if they are the "most cost effective resource among feasible alternatives." This will protect ratepayers from high cost energy, from PNM's stated intent to build more natural gas and buy more nuclear (3 new gas plants and 114 megawatts of nuclear they included in their Integrated Resource Plan and presented to their shareholders), and will prevent this bill from being the gift that keeps on giving ensuring PNM ownership of all energy resources going forward.
5. Securitization provides tangible and quantifiable benefits to ratepayers, greater than what would have been achieved absent the issuance of transition bonds.
PNM share the responsibility for clean-up, economic recovery, and worker severance benefits.
6. Four Corners Power Plant (FCPP) is not included in this securitization bill. Depending on when PNM files to abandon FCPP the undepreciated assets and related costs associated with that plant, assets and liabilities for the plant could be as high as $725M.

We are concerned about Four Corners for 2 reasons: 1) It is prudent to assess the impacts of this bill and its potential (un)intended consequences before we add Four Corners Power plant to this securitization effort. b) The PRC has already ruled (Case No. 16-00276-UT) that PNM's life extension of and investment in Four Corners power plant was imprudent due to the fact that it failed to do any contemporaneous financial evaluation before it reinvested in the plant.  In the next rate case, the PRC will determine the extent of cost disallowance. The law requires that only prudently incurred expenses should be recoverable.

We can do incredible things together this legislative session. We feel like it's our job to raise the issues, even when they are unpopular - in order to protect ratepayers, many of whom struggle to pay monthly electricity bills; the Diné communities who has borne the brunt of the negative impacts from San Juan Generating Station, frontline communities impacted by nuclear production, the public interest and principles of justice that demand corporations who have made 100s of millions of dollars in profit at the expense of our environment and frontline communities are held accountable and share the burden of transitioning away from coal.

We are not alone. We share values and have stood up as advocates. New Mexicans across the board also agree. We recently conducted a poll in which only 4% of respondents representing diverse constituencies from across New Mexico said ratepayers should pay PNM to close the plant without PNM paying their fair share.

Please join us to learn more about the bill, our amendments and how YOU can get involved ahead of the Senate Conservation Committee Meeting on this bill scheduled for this Saturday.

Hot off the presses

Our Ad in today's Santa Fe Reporter

SB 456, ELECTRIC UTILITY RESOURCE PROCUREMENT bill has passed the Senate Conservation Committee on a 5-3 straight party vote, with all democrats present voting in favor. The bill now moves on to Senate Corporations.  

HB 210, COMMUNITY SOLAR ACT passed the floor last night on another straight party vote 42-25. Yahoo!


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