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SB 492, Ratepayer Relief Act HEARING moved to Tuesday, 3/5/19 - is an Antidote to SB 489 Energy Transition Act
BIG LOVE and Gratitude for Joining Us, and Standing Up!
Thank you to the people who are reaching out from all over New Mexico, the country, and through our family of friends and allied organizations. The calls, emails, texts, and encouragement coming in from NYC to the Navajo Nation are helping us maintain balance, keep our eyes on the justice prize, and continue to work hard.
Thank you for the great letters to the papers, for testifying before the legislature for the first time, for your outpouring of love, for tight hugs and unexpected whispers of support, vital information, bouquets of flowers, donations of money, breakfast burritos, and for expressing the outrage that we all share towards climate injustice.
People, this is a BIG challenge - and we must continue to be proximate to our neighbors who are suffering and to stand for what's right. Bryan Stevenson, an inspirational leader, Equal Justice Initiative, says he scoured history and tried to find a successful movement for change that didn't involve discomfort, unease, pain, and hard work and he couldn't find one. So here WE are. Together!
SB 489 includes not just the initial $400M bailout from ratepayers, without any vetting or oversight, but then PNM will use the cash infusion to invest in PNM-owned gas and other resources, that will cost more than independently owned resources, in Farmington, which double down on PNM's monopoly expansion and control. And we don't even have the assured closure of the plant to justify this siting.
You see, we are in an unprecedented time - PNM is closing more than ¼ of all its energy production. NOW is the time for a new model of energy production and procurement. We can have locally produced solar, wind and storage, and efficiency at lower cost than gas produced energy 300 miles away.
The debate surrounding this special legislation has highlighted the difference between two paths: corporate monopoly expansion or energy democracy. Literally to securitize, further institutionalize, and sanction impunity of an investor-owned utility or take advantage of the enormous opportunity we have before us and act responsibly to break open a new energy economy: cleaner and cheaper energy close to home.
As you know we have specific language that we believe is fundamental before we can support SB 489. Despite proponents stating that competitive resource procurement is their intention, when Senator Soules asked to include an amendment to SB 489, which included a definition of "competitive procurement" to ensure that the bill guarantees an open market for competition of resources, hence lower cost for consumers, Senator Candelaria stated that it would be an "unfriendly amendment" and NRDC attorney Noah Long said it would undermine the goals of SB 489.
"[D]oth protest too much, methinks" a line from William Shakespeare's Hamlet which aptly applies here. Might it be true that the bill's proponents know the bill assures PNM-ownership of resources and that they refuse to change the language because the deal is done? Unfortunately, the latter does a better job explaining their complete inaction on amendments submitted by NEE, the PRC, and lawyers representing independent power producers. Unfortunately, it's also consistent with what PNM is saying (and has been saying).
FACT: Today, 2/27/19 when PNM's CFO, Chuck Eldred told Wall St. Investors about SB 489 and showed a slide of their "$2.3B investment plan" he said "our capital plans… [include] growth opportunities at $450 million [which] reflect the opportunities for replacement power."
If proponents of the bill have made this trade for RPS, economic recovery dollars, and apprenticeships - it'd be better if they'd just take responsibility for the compromise they've made on all of our behalves and let New Mexicans and our representatives decide if the trade is one we support. Instead, they continue to put out material that says "Nothing in the bill favors PNM ownership of replacement or any other energy," "the bill is silent on ownership", etc. We need folks to own up to the impacts of the language in the current draft. If it's not their intention to give PNM 100% ownership, to leave the door open for more gas and nuclear, they need to change the language. Period.
Senator Joseph Cervantes will hold a hearing on SB 492, Senator Soules' "clean" securitization bill on March 5, 2019, in Room 311.
Here is our one-pager on the bill: the message should be loud and clear: we support a financing mechanism that lowers interest rates for ratepayers and actually provides tangible and quantifiable benefits to consumers, greater than what would have been achieved absent the issuance of the bonds. This bill grants PRC authority to review all aspects of a securitization application under the "public interest standard" and ensures that financing results in "just and reasonable rates".
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