New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission has found itself at the center of controversy (often for the wrong reasons) over the years. But, on a couple of major issues this year, the PRC has stood firm in its role of seeking to balance the interests of utility customers and utility rate payers, something critics of the recently passed Energy Transition Act (“ETA”) say has been completely ignored by recently passed legislation.
As early as today, a group of New Mexico legislators could hold a vote to hire attorneys to take on the PRC and their decision to move forward under a rate case that preceded the massive “Energy Transition Act (” ETA”) which passed earlier this year.
One issue at play is whether due to the timing of existing regulatory filings, previous law and regulatory practice applies in the disposition of San Juan Generating Station or whether the newly passed ETA is the sole law determining process of evaluating the complex issues at hand. The practical issue at hand is if customers of PNM will be protected from future rate hikes under the ETA.
Gov. Lujan-Grisham and Democrats like Speaker Egolf and Majority Leader Wirth want the PRC to play ball or step aside. Oh, and just to be clear, the PRC is not full of people who philosophically oppose the ETA or “renewable” energy. Rather, they are hoping to maintain some consumer protections as the ETA is implemented.
Finally, the PRC’s decision on Facebook’s transmission wires also appears to be justified. The company will pay $39 million toward the cost of new utility lines for the purpose of bringing “renewable” electricity to its facility near Los Lunas. Analysts including one from PNM itself have said that the line will primarily benefit Facebook, not utility customers as a whole.
While reforms to the PRC including making them appointed (as opposed to elected) officials may be sensible, the current attacks on the PRC are motivated by “sour grapes” and politics. The PRC has actually been doing its job.