Public Regulatory Commission of New Mexico

 

The New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission, or PRC, not to be confused with the People's Republic of China, is the state agency charged with regulating various utilities that provide basic services to the public, such as telephone and electricity. In many states, this agency is called the "Public Utility Commission" or PUC. New Mexico used to have a PUC; in 1999 the PUC along with various other functions outside the PUC were consolidated into a new agency called the PRC. As a result, New Mexico now has an underfunded, overtaxed, and understaffed agency to regulate its utilities. 

 

The Truth about Regulatory Commissions

 

It is important to keep in mind that these agencies were originally created around 1920 at the behest of the then-budding electric utilities, specifically to temper public outrage at private monopolies and forestall public ownership of electric utilities. In particular, this move was championed by Samuel Insull of Chicago's Commonwealth Edison, and was borrowed from the experience of the Interstate Commerce Commission, which had largely failed to properly regulate the railroads. As expected, PUCs have mostly served the interests of utilities ever since (see "Who Owns the Sun? People, Politics, and the Struggle for a Solar Economy", by D. M Berman, and J. T. O'Connor, ISBN 0-930031-86-5). This is not surprising: a handful of city attorneys can never be a match for an army of attorneys with a century's worth of accumulated experience and technical experts loyal to the utilities. Moreover, utilities have many ways to use their influence have favorable people elected onto the commissions.  

 

For examples and discussion of PRC rulings related to solar, see our net-metering section.