Friends, I'm so excited to share this press release with you all. Moments after today's win I phoned our friends here in New Mexico, Washington, and Colorado who are leaders in the renewable independent power producers movement to give them the good news: we won against EPE’s rigged bid for expensive solar.
EPE limited the scope of their RFP to only consider utility-owned high-priced solar and we want to open the economy to allow utility competitors to produce low-cost solar and wind. Cost matters! People matter! The utilities have been not only extracting coal, nuclear and gas, they have been literally extracting our wealth. And undermining our democracy. We gotta fight back. Together, and with big dreams and hard work WE can win. - Mariel
October 31, 2018
For Immediate Release
Santa Fe, NM - The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted 3-2 to grant New Energy Economy’s motion to dismiss a solar project proposed by El Paso Electric (EPE). The project would have resulted in customers paying a premium who subscribed to get their electricity from EPE’s solar project.
The 2-megawatt EPE-owned solar project was promoted to help lower-income New Mexicans gain access to solar electricity. The program, however, would charge customers a higher rate for the electricity than a similar project recently proposed by Southwestern Public Service (“SPS”) through a contract with an independent power producer. The SPS levelized cost is $45.46/MWh versus the higher EPE levelized cost of $78.41/MWh. The levelized cost of the SPS project is 42% less than the EPE project.
Commissioners are bound by law to seek out the most cost effective option among all feasible alternatives when approving proposals. EPE discriminated against competitors that could've offered a better deal for New Mexicans despite their own history of buying lower cost solar from independent power producers to save ratepayers money. EPE’s request for proposals limited proposals to build an EPE owned solar array on EPE owned land.
READ PRC Order Granting NEE Motion
In their vote, the three women commissioners, Linda Lovejoy, Valerie Espinoza, and Cynthia Hall voted to uphold a fair and legal process for approving such projects. Commissioners Sandy Jones and Patrick Lyons had used the banner of "low-income" in their attempts to railroad the illegal and expensive solar project through a rushed approval process.
Despite Lyons and Jones repeated efforts to convince the other commissioners that the project would help low-income New Mexicans, Commissioner Hall accurately pointed out during the meeting that “the detriment for low-income people arises when we don’t look at the best opportunities for the lowest cost possible.”
“NMPRC Commissioners Sandy Jones and Patrick Lyons disingenuously used the banner of "low-income" in their attempts to justify the illegal, and expensive solar project,” said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy.
READ coverage in 11/2/2018 Las Cruces Sun
READ coverage in 11/1/2018 Santa Fe New Mexican
As the above table explains, even EPE’s own filing in September 2018 acknowledged in EPE’s Integrated Resource Portfolio (IRP) filing that EPE could purchase solar from an independent power producer at $21.50/MWh, and solar + storage at $35.74/MWh, both significantly less than EPE’s expensive solar in this case.
“Our Women PRC commissioners protected consumers from EPE's overreach, greed, and anti-competitive proposal," said Nanasi.