Energy Transition Act (ETA) Amendments were formally introduced today and designated SB 155. The bill will be heard first in Senate Conservation and then Senate Tax, Business and Transportation.... and then Finance. Usually when a bill is assigned to three committees it is a sign that leadership wants to kill the bill. We hope that regardless of the hurdles that have been put before us, protecting ratepayers will trump politics and corporate influence and justice will prevail.
These amendments protect New Mexican energy consumers from paying an estimated $2B in depreciation and cleanup costs for retired fossil fuel plants without any oversight or protection by regulators. The amendments keep the good parts of the ETA - the renewable portfolio standards, securitization and just transition funding for impacted communities while:
1. RESTORING PRC AUTHORITY TO DECIDE THE AMOUNT CONSUMERS PAY
2. RESTORING PRC AUTHORITY TO APPROVE OR DENY A UTILITY'S PROPOSAL
3. REINSTATING THE LEGAL AND CONFORMING 30-DAY FILING DEADLINES
Back in 2018, before the ETA was introduced, we predicted that the bill would make an end run around the ratepayers vested rights required to be honored by the PRC. And that is what is happening. As detailed by the AP last week 'Groups challenge utility plan to dump New Mexico power plant,' PNM has indeed filed for 100% of $300M in recovery costs from ratepayers for abandonment of the Four Corners plant, arguing that the ETA allows them full cost recovery without any oversight. And they are not even planning to close the plant, but rather to sell it so that it can continue operating until 2031. Where is the justice?
WHY AN ETA WIN MATTERS:
“In the wake of a woefully inadequate federal COVID relief bill, millions of Americans are being penalized with mounting utility debt and face fatal utility shutoffs, all at the whim of their electric utilities. The ETA law sets a dangerous precedent that further removes state oversight over utilities to saddle the public with debt of uneconomical polluting fossil plants. The rest of the ETA can be preserved while addressing a few critical amendments that stop this injustice. These amendments are vital to protecting the public, especially low-wealth communities and communities of color who disproportionately suffer both the pollution of fossil plants and massive energy burdens in this economic crisis." - Jean Su, Attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity
We will reach out for your support once the bill has been scheduled. Stay tuned!