We started the morning today at the New Mexico Supreme Court to argue that corporate welfare on the backs of New Mexico ratepayers is not the answer to the climate crisis.
Arguments today hinged on how the 2019 decoupling amendment to the Efficient Use of Energy Act (EUEA) should be interpreted. The justices questioned litigants interpretations of the law to decide whether the language of the statute required "full decoupling" in the sense that PNM wants it to be read - that the amendment guarantees them the right to collect expected revenue from customers no matter what the cause of deviation from expected revenue, or whether the language of the amendment has to be read in context with the full statute. We argued that when read in context, the decoupling amendment applies only to "utility development of cost-effective energy efficiency and load management measures."
No, we do not believe PNM should be rewarded and guaranteed a set amount from each customer even if less electricity was sold because the weather happened to be mild, building codes were amended to require greater efficiency, or customers installed rooftop solar.
Despite some confusion about how the terms "full decoupling" and "partial decoupling" should be applied, we trust that the court understood the absurdity of our opponents argument that the utility should be allowed to completely sever the connection between energy use and revenue. We believe the court will find that the statute must be read in context with the PRC's required role in balancing the interests of ratepayers and shareholders to ensure just and reasonable rates.
Proponents of full decoupling surmise that utilities will only make an effort towards efficiency and conservation if they are paid to do so. We argue that regulation, legislation and enforcement of the public interest are better tools for change than corporate welfare on the backs of New Mexico ratepayers.