Today we are preparing for a Monday hearing at the Supreme Court to defend New Mexico against PNM's absurd attempt to argue that it should be guaranteed expected revenue from customers, regardless of their actual energy use.
In 2019 the New Mexico legislature amended the Efficient Use of Energy Act (EUEA) in an attempt to create some incentive for electric utilities to invest in programs that reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency or load management programs, such as time-of-use programs that encourage off-peak usage, or promotion of low-consumption appliances. In theory such measures, if effective, could reduce the need for investment in new energy generation resources.
PNM has the gall to argue at the PRC that the EUEA, as it was written, in fact guarantees them the right to collect expected revenue from customers "NO MATTER WHAT"! PNM argued at the PRC that the EUEA should be interpreted extraordinarily broadly, so as to secure for PNM the right to maintain projected revenues and collect expected profits even if a reduction in energy consumption resulted from weather variations, changing economic conditions, a pandemic, or installation of rooftop solar arrays. Support for that sort of “full decoupling” of a utility’s revenues from its sales cannot be found in the statute.
PNM lost that argument at the PRC and appealed that loss to the NM Supreme Court. Do you sense a pattern here?
PNM and REIA would have the Court adopt an egregious and absurd proposition – a perspective that is contrary to NM Supreme Court law and precedent that, in a nutshell, a monopoly utility has an opportunity but NOT a guarantee for profit. A regulated monopoly utility is still a business and cannot insulate itself from the ups and downs of all market forces.
The legislature authorized partial decoupling, specifically authorizing revenue decoupling for programs "tied to utility development of cost-effective energy efficiency and load management measures" and with "satisfactory program performance." MEANING: if a utility develops a cost-effective energy efficiency or load management measure, as defined in the statute, that actually reduces electricity usage more than buying a supply-side resource (think gas plant), then it is entitled to compensation plus profit for that program. And who decides? THE COMMISSION - NOT the utility.
We will argue that PNM wants to have its cake and eat it too - they want monopoly utility rights in their service area, which they have, and they want the Court to grant PNM guaranteed revenues without oversight, without authority, and without regulation - but that is not what the legislature or the law requires. We will FIGHT BACK against PNM's extraordinarily broad, and erroneous interpretation of the law.
Come in person to hear arguments on Monday at the NM Supreme Court (237 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe) at 10:30AM or watch on YouTube livestream here.
SIDE NOTE - TODAY MAINE VOTERS WILL DECIDE WHETHER TO ADOPT PUBLIC POWER AND KICK AVANGRID OUT FOR GOOD
Our friends at Our Power in Maine have been fighting for years to retake their power from Avangrid owned utility Central Maine Power, which has consistently failed to supply Mainers with reliable electricity at fair rates. After fighting hard to pass authorization through the legislature for a nonprofit utility to take over electricity distribution in Maine, and winning, only to face a Governor veto, Our Power collected signatures from tens of thousands of Mainers to get a referendum on today's ballot. Avangrid has poured at least $35 million into the opposition. Read more about the fight here: