Sounding the alarm... again


The Paper. in Albuquerque reprinted last week's Searchlight New Mexico article about PNM's misuse of the Energy Transition Act, introducing it this way:

The Energy Transition Act was passed in 2019 to great fanfare from environmental groups. The law set a deadline for New Mexico to reach 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045 and created financial mechanisms designed to help utilities get out of coal quickly and to help communities transition their economies away from fossil fuel. Wrapped in bureaucratic language, utility cases are little understood by the public. But the stakes in these proceedings are high for anyone who lives in New Mexico and they have a major impact on the future.

We agree. The stakes are high - very high. And as the Searchlight article notes, PNM is using the Energy Transition Act to line its pockets while keeping coal at Four Corners burning and claiming falsely that it cannot release funds for impacted communities due to ongoing litigation. The article describes the growing opposition to PNM's double dealing:

Environmental groups — most of which supported the passage of the ETA — have cried foul, arguing that PNM is misusing the law by failing to push for Four Corners’ retirement.

But in fact some groups predicted this problem, that there would be a 100% bailout for utilities and no actual closure of coal. New Energy Economy and Retake our Democracy did sound the alarm. Unfortunately the ETA was rushed to passage without debate or understanding of the far reaching negative impacts to ratepayers and New Mexicans.

As we argued in our brief and further in our response brief in the Four Corners abandonment case, PNM cannot be allowed to not only flaunt the spirit of the ETA by prolonging the life of coal, but also conveniently apply only the parts of the law that line its pockets, ignoring the requirement to distribute Just Transition funds to impacted communities.

We hope that state leadership, legislators and regulators at the PRC will hear the alarm this time before the harm has been done and recognize how the perverse profit incentive baked into the monopoly utility model is anathema to a rapid and just energy transition. We hope they can summon the imagination and courage to reject the Avangrid/Iberdrola merger and adopt an alternative public power model that allows for shared prosperity and environmental justice for all New Mexicans.

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