Public Regulation Commission Denies Western Resource Advocates, PNM, and NM Sierra Club attempt to quash New Energy Economy’s Expert Testimony in San Juan Coal Abandonment Case
In Tuesday’s order, the Public Regulation Commission Hearing Examiner sided with New Energy Economy and ruled that expert testimony of Steven Fetter, former Chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission, former bond rater for Fitch, and former general counsel for the Michigan State Senate, be heard. Mr. Fetter’s testimony, brought forward by New Energy Economy, is relevant to the most troubling provisions of the Energy Transition Act (“ETA”) that allow utilities to determine for themselves the amount of money they will receive from ratepayers for undepreciated investments and decommissioning costs associated with retiring coal, nuclear and gas power plants without Commission review. These provisions deprive the PRC of its ability to determine whether the amount a utility receives is legitimate, lawful and fair to ratepayers.
According to Fetter’s testimony:
"I view the ETA as a significant departure from other ‘securitization’ laws in a way that undermines the core of the PRC’s fundamental purpose and role – to regulate on behalf of the public to ‘reasonably protect ratepayers from wasteful expenditure … [It] has allowed a regulated utility to determine the costs it wishes to recover through securitization, with no ability of the regulator to ensure that such costs are appropriately recoverable prior to being locked in through a financing order and bond issuance. Such a process would allow New Mexico public utilities to hold unprecedented power. In essence – intended or not – the ETA serves as a deregulation law."
In the order, the Commission said “[Mr. Fetter’s] testimony attempts to show the effects of the application of the ETA and, by so doing, it casts light on the significance of the constitutional dispute over which set of standards should apply.”
This is especially important now because PNM is opposing the production of materials that “cast light” on the contamination and poisoning of the land and water at San Juan Generating Station (“SJGS”). New Energy Economy has been forced to file a Motion to Compel to require access to this data and allow another expert, a nationally recognized land and water reclamation expert to inspect the land and take water and soil samples for laboratory analysis.
Just gotta share a couple of lines from PRC Staff’s concurrence with our position:
“The general test for discovery is whether the request appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Information about the condition for SJGS and the property upon which it stands clearly falls within this criterion. … PNM should not be rewarded for its intransigence regarding discovery.”
So, we are hard at work, filing motions, testimony and briefs and warding off the attempts by PNM and the ETA proponents to hide the truth, screw ratepayers, and foist the toxic waste onto us. We can only do this with your help! Contact Miles@newenergyeconomy.org about helping conduct research, analyze PNM’s documents (are you an economist, engineer, or graphic designer), and help us tell the story by writing a piece for your local newspaper.