Read Mariel Nanasi’s guest column below on the Energy Transition Act below. Published in the Sunday, November 24 edition of Santa Fe New Mexican
Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self-evident.
— Arthur Schopenhauer
We hope this important truth is becoming self-evident: The Energy Transition Act is a bailout for the Public Service Company of New Mexico, with ratepayers paying the bills.
At the time of the ETA’s passing, PNM was facing a New Mexico Public Regulation Commission with new members who ran on campaign promises to actually regulate the company. PNM was also facing several legal challenges for the hundreds of millions of dollars they’ve recently reinvested in coal and nuclear — despite evidence that these investments were costly, risky, and had not been evaluated against renewable energy alternatives.
Remember Phase I of the San Juan abandonment case? PNM agreed to close half of the San Juan coal plant to comply with the EPA’s haze rule violations. California plant co-owners took that opportunity to abandon their interests in the plant. Big greens like Western Resource Advocates and Sierra Club convinced the PRC to approve PNM’s purchase of California’s unwanted coal shares, despite cheaper renewable alternatives.
On Feb. 24, 2017, PNM changed its mind. PNM’s board decided that shutting down San Juan would be more profitable.
In the first abandonment case, PNM cooked the books to justify its coal and nuclear reinvestments. And the old, corrupt PRC rubber-stamped its plan. Fundamental questions about who will pay for decommissioning, cleanup and transition from PNM’s coal and nuclear are coming to a head.
Many of PNM’s recent reinvestments in coal and nuclear have now been proven to be imprudent (aka financially irresponsible). PNM could very likely face cost disallowances, impacting shareholder earnings.
San Juan Generating Station will close in 2022. Four Corners Generating Station and Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station will close soon thereafter. In this situation, what’s a company centered on shareholder profits to do?
The ETA provides the perfect solution — PNM can recover its bad investments in San Juan, Four Corners and Palo Verde, offload all costs onto ratepayers, and the ETA protects PNM from consequences for its poor decision-making because it strips the PRC of its regulatory authority in abandonment cases.
The ETA states: “The commission shall issue no order disallowing cost recovery for any undepreciated investments and decommissioning costs.” In the attorney general’s assessment: The ETA allows PNM to “self-regulate.” It’s no wonder that once the ETA became law, PNM’s stock hit an all-time high!
PNM’s shareholders are happy — they’ve made steady profits on coal, nuclear and gas, and offloaded their toxic assets onto ratepayers. The Big Greens are happy — they traded our regulatory protections for a working relationship with the utility that allows them to continue their incremental stroll toward the climate cliff — renewables plus nuclear by 2045, 10 years after the deadline set by scientific consensus. Who’s left holding the bag? Ratepayers.
New Mexico’s working people — 20 percent of whom are living below the poverty level, 83 percent of whom are people of color — will be paying 100 percent of the costs. PNM steals from the poorest people — Hispanics and indigenous people — and lavishes senior management and rich Wall Street investors (the 1 percent). This is blatant racism and economic injustice.
In 2018, PNM’s CEO made nearly $5 million, while 20,795 PNM customers received low-income home energy assistance and PNM sent 365,072 disconnect notices to its customers.
At New Energy Economy, we believe in corporate accountability, democracy and justice. We choose to stand up for these principles and fight to protect the people and planet from corporate greed. PNM and friends call this uncompromising. Big greens, industry and politicians have been compromising for 50 years — and now we have a climate crisis.
It’s time we try something different. Take a stand. Demand accountability. And take our power back — literally and figuratively. Join us at www.NewEnergyEconomy.org.
SO PLEASE ATTEND THE PUBLIC REGULATION COMMISSION HEARINGS ON SAN JUAN COAL ABANDONMENT
Monday, December 9, 2019 at 9:30AM [public comment will be heard]
Where: 1120 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe - PRC Apodaca Hall [basement]
We recommend arriving at 9:00AM to sign in. Testimony begins promptly at 9:30am
Contact us and say you’ll be there! Call 505-989-7262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
Check out this summary of New Energy Economy and Allies Challenge to Unconstitutional Provisions of the Energy Transition Act.
more upcoming events:
MONDAY, December 9th 6:00-7:30PM O’Niells Pub 4310 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque 87108E
Indivisible Nob Hill hosts New Energy Economy for discussion on Community Solar Legislation and more...
FRIDAY, December 13th 5:30-7:00PM 343 E. Alameda St. Santa Fe, 87501
New Energy Economy Holiday Gathering - meet New Energy Economy’s growing staff and newly seated board members