This morning you packed the house for Local Choice Energy. Senate Conservation was buzzing with advocates who came to speak for energy choice, but unfortunately the bill was rolled to Thursday because a proposed amendment was not properly distributed. We will be back Thursday, and we know you will too!
Meanwhile, on the eve before the bill's introduction New Energy Economy was attacked by Better Together New Mexico, a right-wing front group funded by the Koch brothers and a frequent PNM advocate. The group sent a press release that alleged New Energy Economy was illegally fundraising after having its 501c3 status revoked in May (unbeknownst to us) due to an error with a 2019 filing, attacked Mariel personally and railed against the Local Choice Energy Act. Thus far two articles have been written about the issues raised in their statement:
Climate advocacy group's nonprofit status reinstated, leader says Right-wing group alleges a prominent advocate of local energy choice engaged in illegal fundraising efforts
We want to personally thank all of you for your trust in us, especially those who are able to give financially to support our work. We want to assure you that our 501c3 status is intact and that all donations made in 2022 and beyond are absolutely tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. The fear-mongering and attempted hit job by right-wing friends of PNM is not surprising, but no less alarming.
Meanwhile, we apologize for any stress this misinformation has caused. It's important to us that you know the facts, versus the politically motivated vitriols:
Having not received a single notice from the IRS, we did not learn about the issue from the agency, but rather, from a donor, in September, when they wrote to give us a heads-up that we appeared on an Auto-revocation list. We were shocked because it said our status had been revoked since May! This despite the fact that we got an updated 501(c)3 determination letter from the IRS dated June 10, 2022.
We immediately called the IRS and were informed that the problem was that they did not have our 2019 990 on file. It was our understanding that the 990 had been filed. Our accountant had given us a copy of the filed form, which we also filed with the NM Attorney General's Coros business registry, so we were, and still are, unclear as to what happened. It could have been an error on the part of our accountant who had suffered the loss of his mother due to covid when he was under contract with us in 2020 and preparing and filing the form. It could have been an error on the part of the IRS - which might be the reason we never received a single notice in 3 years. Regardless the cause, we took responsibility for the problem and worked to resolve it swiftly and diligently. Thankfully, the IRS was understanding and responsive.
We were assured by the IRS that we could apply for retroactive reinstatement after filing the missing form (as well as our 2020 and 2021 990s for which we had been given extensions due to the pandemic), after which tax-exempt status would be retroactively reinstated. The IRS agent confirmed that all donations received in the interim would fall under the retroactive reinstatement - backdated to the May revocation date and therefore, all donations would be tax-exempt.
Thankfully, despite immense delays and backlogged cases at the IRS, the agency granted our application for expedited review and worked with us "relatively" quickly. Our application for retroactive reinstatement was approved on December 2nd. As promised, the retroactive determination means there was no gap in tax-exemption status. All late fees were also waived due to our showing of cause.
Though the above reinstatement letter is posted on the IRS website, New Energy Economy is still listed on the Auto Revocation list due to IRS data processing delays. As per the notice posted at the top of the IRS Tax Exempt Organization search page, “Expect delays in data updates… we are still processing paper-filed 990 series received 2021 and later.”
Part of the reason the IRS grants retroactive reinstatements is that people's applications can take a really long time to be processed (up to 6 months). The agency is chronically overwhelmed with calls. (Maybe some of you have experienced the 5-hour wait time - only to hear "do to extremely high call volume, we cannot take your call at this time. Please try again on the next business day"). They don't want to jeopardize organizations' ability to continue to fulfill their charitable work while applications for reinstatement are being processed. We were very lucky that the agency worked with us so quickly relatively speaking and we worked hard to make sure that was the case and that the issue was resolved as soon as possible.
This issue was time-consuming to address and stressful. We both took and take the value and importance of our nonprofit status and mission very seriously. We also take our responsibility to funders and supporters of all kinds very seriously. We did our best to take responsibility for the error as soon as we learned about it. And we were able to resolve the issue in a way that protected our funders and our organization from any harm.
It is very unfortunate that the largest corporation in NM and its Koch funded front groups are trying to use something like this against us. This is not the first time they've gone after our funders or after Mariel personally. It is unethical, dirty politics that they don't hesitate to deploy. They are punishing us for fighting against their greed and corruption and for fighting for clean energy and economic justice for New Mexicans.
The timing of the attack was not coincidental. PNM is afraid because Public Power for New Mexico has built a powerful coalition of more than thirty organizations and received endorsements from Bernalillo County, Santa Fe County and individual New Mexicans all over the state. They are afraid because the proof that Local Choice Energy is a policy that works to both lower prices and spur investments in clean energy keeps rolling in. Consider this report just published yesterday about Local Choice providers in Massachusetts that shows:
$0.88¢ / kWh - Average savings that 79% of municipalities with Local Choice programs achieved compared to utilities’ monthly basic service rates
$93 - Average yearly savings per household in municipalities with Local Choice programs
$70 million - Average yearly savings for municipalities with Local Choice programs
They are running scared that their cushy monopoly is under threat, and the firehose of easy money flowing to their Wall Street shareholders from New Mexican families might slow. Much like the water in our rivers that their fossil fueled industry is responsible for drying up, even though Water is Life.
We thank you for your trust, we thank you for standing with us, and we thank you for persevering in the face of entrenched corruption and corporate power.
IN OTHER NEWS
PRC CONFIRMATION PROCESS IS UP: Wednesday, February 8, 2023 9:00 AM 321
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3396422464, 9am Senate Rules