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Reader View: PNM is greenwashing plan for coal, nuclear

Karen Paramanandam

Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2015 9:00 pm

By Karen Paramanandam | 8 comments

I am the marketing director at Positive Energy Solar. It is with great respect for the people of this state that I feel I must speak up. I miss the days of truth in advertising. It is amazing to me that Public Service Company of New Mexico gets away with the outrageous claims they make in their full-scale PR assault on the good people of New Mexico. Every time we see a PNM advertisement these days, it is full of half-truths and exaggerated statistics.

“More Sol. Less Coal” is PNM’s latest spin in its “green” campaign, but what they aren’t telling you is that PNM is, in fact, adding more coal and barely scratching the surface in adopting sol.

Yet PNM is proposing to bring more coal, nuclear and natural gas into the mix at a cost to ratepayers of $66 million annually. This cost does not include costs from any future carbon or coal regulations that might be incurred, nor does it factor future rises in fossil fuel costs. PNM’s claims in the ad that they will have cumulatively invested more than $270 million in solar by the end of 2015 is true, but solar only accounts for a measly 2 percent of the whole. This is a tiny fraction of what PNM could be harnessing, in a state that is recognized as the second-best state in the nation for solar power.

To add insult to injury, PNM has asked our Public Regulation Commission to approve a tax on rooftop solar producers beginning in 2016. That means that PNM wants to fine anyone who chooses to invest their hard-earned money in a solar electric system that is tied to their grid after this year.

If the PRC approves this tax, solar electric adoption and development in our state, which boasts more than 310 days of sunshine annually, will come to a screeching halt. If, in fact, PNM is claiming to be working toward reliability and affordability in an environmentally responsible manner, they would not be proposing to tax solar consumers. Also buried in its plan for more sol is the fact that it plans to “sunset the banking option for new [distributed generation] customers” — replacing it with monthly payments for excess energy that is produced.

This will significantly impact the financial payback on the solar installation. Once again, PNM is putting its shareholders above its ratepayers. PNM already profits from residential and small commercial solar producers as they are actually producing clean, efficient power for their neighbors and generating cash for PNM. Solar producers create energy for PNM at no capital cost to PNM. PNM then purchases excess energy from residential solar customers at about 3 percent, the wholesale rate, and sells it to neighboring residents at 9 cents, the retail rate. You tell me — who is the winner in that math equation?

Arguments related to the antiquated notion that solar producers are not paying their fair share have fallen flat in other states around the country. What’s more, our PRC should order a comprehensive study on the true economic and environmental benefits of distributed generation and renewable energy vs. fossil fuels on our grid before handing over ratepayers’ hard-earned money to PNM.

Karen Paramanandam is the marketing director at Positive Energy Solar.


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