Where have we been?

The past six years have seen many turbulent negotiations regarding electricity regulation and deregulation between the New Mexico PRC, utilities, coops, and consumer advocacy groups of various types. As one example of the many ups and downs, the former PUC was very favorable towards renewables, and encouraged plans for a five megawatt solar plant. Some solar advocates claim that the cost of the electricity from the proposed plant would have been 30 cents per kilowatt-hour, and they opposed the plant on this basis and also for technical and other reasons. 


As another example, the former PUC calculated that PNM does not have rights to stranded costs (PNM disagreed)
In 1998, the former PUC estimated that New Mexico rate-payers pay about $60 million/yr extra, compared to other mountain
states such as Colorado, and in its final ruling before being replaced by the present PRC, ordered PNM to cut rates by $91 million dollars, open its lines to a certain competitor, and to allow net-metering up to one megawatt, far and above the present 1 kilowatt limit. These orders were promptly suspended, without public comment, by the new PRC, citing unfairness to PNM, safety considerations, and a desire to simply have another look at the orders. A number of law-makers, as well as the utilities, strongly supported this move. Some law-makers expressed feelings that the PUC had effectively usurped their power. PNM expressed delight at the suspension. The new PRC imposed a 10 kilowatt cap in the subsequent (and current) net-metering ruling. 


These examples illustrate that, as a rule, energy politics in New Mexico is stormy, complicated, and not very favorable toward development of renewable sources.