Act TODAY: Don’t let PRC cave to PNM rate demands

PNM is pulling out all the stops to increase our electric bills by 15.5%.

It went into attack mode when the Public Regulation Commission’s hearing examiner recommended the PRC allow “only” a 6.6% hike. PNM threatened layoffs and court appeals. Its friends in several right-wing groups even attacked the hearing officer for being a former Sierra Club member.

PRC commissioners may vote on the rate increase THIS Wednesday.

This case has big implications for our climate and our pocketbooks. That’s why hundreds of you answered my request to send comments to the PRC a few months ago, before the recommended decision was released.

At this critical time, I’m asking you to send a personal note to your commissioner. They take constituents’ unique comments very seriously, and pro-PNM groups have been working hard to influence them.

Below are some points that are important to stress to protect our climate and fair rates. Click here or here for more information about this case. Contact information for commissioners is below.

Key climate points to raise with commissioners

  1. Please refuse to let PNM charge customers for $53 million in “balanced draft” equipment at San Juan Generating Station. The hearing examiner found that the decision to install the equipment was not justified and the equipment was not required, according to both the state Environment Department and the EPA. Allowing this expense into rates would make it more difficult to transition from San Juan coal plant to cleaner energy and allow PNM shareholders to make a profit by charging consumers a rate of return.
  2. Please refuse PNM’s request to raise our monthly service fees from $5 to $13. High base fees, which customers pay no matter how much energy they use, hurt low-income and energy-efficient customers and punish solar owners by lowering the return on rooftop solar. The hearing officer recommended raising the fee to $7; we hope commissioners will keep it at $5.
  3. Please agree with the hearing examiner that PNM failed to justify its Palo Verde nuclear transactions as being in the best interest of ratepayers. The attorney general, PRC staff and other parties agreed that PNM failed to justify its purchase of 64 megawatts of nuclear energy at the Palo Verde Plant. The attorney general’s expert witness testified, “In no way, shape or form did they justify the market value that they are asking for here.”
  4. Please approve PNM’s “decoupling” pilot, which the hearing examiner objected to because of misunderstandings of some aspects of the proposal. The decoupling plan would remove PNM’s disincentive to encourage energy efficiency, and it would do so while keeping rates steady.
  5. Please refuse to allow into rates PNM’s extension of its ownership in Four Corners Coal Plant and the take-or-pay coal contract it signed for that plant’s mine. The hearing examiner didn’t comment on the transactions’ prudency but said they should have been addressed in the San Juan case last year. However, this is the first case where the transactions could have been addressed. PNM made these financial commitments to dirty energy without approval from the commission, and the company should bear the burden of proof that the actions were prudent before ratepayers are forced to foot the bill.

Please use the email addresses below to write to commissioners on any or all of these issues. Let us know you wrote at riogrande.chapter@sierraclub.org.

Not sure which commissioner represents you? Click here or just send a note to all five.

Karen Montoya (Albuquerque area): karenl.montoya@state.nm.us
Sandy Jones (Southwestern New Mexico): sandy.jones@state.nm.us
Valerie Espinoza (Santa Fe and north-central NM): valerie.espinoza@state.nm.us
Patrict Lyons (Eastern NM): patrick.lyons@state.nm.us
Lynda Lovejoy (Northwest and western NM):  (lynda.lovejoy@state.nm.us

Thank you for everything you do for the environment!
Denise Fort, Energy chair, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter

Act TODAY: Don’t let PRC cave to PNM rate demands