New Law Increases Regulation of Utility Companies

The New Mexico state legislature has recently passed House Bill 305, sponsored by Speaker Ben Lujan of Santa Fe, which will impose new mandatory regulations on utility companies throughout the state in an attempt to make them more accountable to environmental concerns.
While encouraging commercial, industrial, and residential growth in New Mexico, our state government will simultaneously force utility companies to adhere to new rules that will drive them to eventually decrease the amount of electricity provided to customers. By 2014, utility companies must be providing 5% less electricity to customers than provided in 2005, and by 2020 providing 10% less.
The law is also known as a Utility Customer Demand Management bill. If customers were actively demanding increased energy efficiency, new technologies and business models would develop in a free market that would meet their demands. Instead, government regulations have been adopted which are likely to stifle the very economic growth that our state needs.
In his blog titled A Lonely Vote for Coal and Against Conservation, Governor Richardson has mentioned that state Senator Tim Jennings of Roswell was the first legislator to vote against the proposed bill.
Although, according to Judy Pasternak of the Los Angeles Times, plans for some new coal-fired power plants have been cancelled or delayed nationwide, they “continue to advance in New Mexico, Mississippi and Indiana.” In the same article she mentions that Rick Sergel, head of North American Electric Reliability Corp., has suggested that the “tight conditions” placed on coal-fired plants may cause the nation to have an electricity shortage within 10 years.
It would seem obvious that, with a power crisis possibly imminent, utility companies should be allowed to ensure ample electricity to their customers. Unfortunately, Governor Richardson and the New Mexico Legislature are all too willing to ignore energy consumers in favor of promises of “efficiency.”