New Energy Economy, Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (“ABCWUA”), the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General, Bernalillo County, Sierra Club, and PRC Staff filed exceptions objecting to the Hearing Examiner’s Recommended Decision in the Four Corners “abandonment” (not closure) case. All argued:
“Abandonment” and sale to NTEC is not in the public interest and should be denied because it will prolong the burning of coal;
A financing order for $300M plus interest would foist costs onto ratepayers and would amount to a travesty of justice; and
There was sufficient record evidence to determine that PNM was imprudent when it reinvested in and extended the life of the Four Corners coal plant.
United we have a chance to make the case for climate and economic justice as the PRC weighs their final decision. Here are a couple of noteworthy zingers from exceptions filed last week:
“Securitizing PNM’s stranded assets through a non-bypassable charge represents a significant detriment to consumers which must be considered by the Commission. If approved, the Commission loses all authority over the FCPP, but ratepayers will continue to pay for the carbon polluting facility well past its likely operating lifetime. The only transition to carbon free energy will be on paper, from PNM’s generation portfolio, with no measurable reduction in carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions.” ABCWUA/Bernalillo County, p. 10.
“PNM established the market value of FCPP at negative $75 million. That is what PNM is willing to pay to get rid of it. No other competitive marketplace would allow a company to unload toxic assets on customers for the next 25 years, many of whom will never receive service from FCPP.” ABCWUA/Bernalillo County, p. 11.
“Instead of allowing this cynical cash grab, the Commission should simply deny PNM the authority to abandon the FCPP at this time, as PNM has not demonstrated that it meets the test for abandonment.” PRC Staff, p. 4.
“Because PNM has explicitly admitted that Four Corners is an uneconomic resource, between $30 million and $300 million more costly than feasible resource alternatives, it should be removed from rate base. PNM imprudently invested in FCPP, ratepayers have been overcharged ever since, and it is incumbent that the PRC stop the bleeding.” New Energy Economy, p. 4.
“If utilities are recovering all costs from an uneconomic plant from ratepayers shareholders don’t seem to mind collecting money resulting from the bad business decisions of utility management, but if shareholders are required to bear the costs for an uneconomic plant, then closure quickly becomes the most efficient and effective means of addressing those burdensome costs.” New Energy Economy, p. 10.
“In crafting a proper remedy, NEE urges the PRC to recognize that PNM acted with deliberate indifference to its obligations under the law. This is not the first time that PNM has been challenged for imprudent investments made without proper analyses and then been forced to fabricate a questionable rationale. Nor is this first time the PRC has found PNM imprudent in its investment decisions.” New Energy Economy, p. 22.
“The Commission has only one option available that guarantees that imprudently incurred costs will not be passed on to ratepayers: deny the abandonment application, make a final prudence determination, and thereby eliminate the legal risk that issuing a financing order under the ETA will preclude the Commission from subsequently disallowing the Four Corners costs that have not yet been subject to a prudence review.” Sierra Club, p. 7 (Emphasis in the original.)