November 22, 2017 Read More →

Criticism in New Mexico of Utility’s Solar Market Control

Santa Fe New Mexican:

Last week, the state Public Regulation Commission voted 3-2 to approve the utility company’s renewable energy portfolio plan, which include procuring solar, wind and geothermal power. The plan is aimed at meeting the goal of relying on renewable energy for 20 percent of the total energy mix in New Mexico.

The solar and geothermal power purchases were contested by some, and a hearing examiner for the commission said the utility should not be allowed to move forward with the investments because it had failed to show they were the most cost-effective options. PNM’s costs ultimately show up in customers’ bills.

New Energy Economy, a longtime opponent of PNM, filed a motion asking the commission to “rehear and reverse the findings and conclusions” associated with PNM’s solar plan, which outlines investing in a 50-megawatt facility built by Affordable Solar.

Mariel Nanasi, director of the group, wrote the commission had ignored and distorted evidence and applicable law when it decided to allow PNM to move forward with the plan.

She said Affordable Solar received a significantly better deal to build a solar-powered center for Facebook last year from PNM. Solar prices have declined, she said, yet the renewable portfolio plan will cost ratepayers in New Mexico a higher fee per megawatt hour than Facebook.

This is “not the most cost effective among feasible alternatives,” Nanasi said.

PNM has said the plan will provide crucial energy benefits to New Mexico. Earlier this week, Moody’s Investor Service released a statement finding that the plan’s approval is “credit positive.”

“The New Mexico regulatory environment historically has been inconsistent and unpredictable,” Moody’s wrote. “And the possibility of litigating the case remains.”

More: Environmentalists ask PRC to reverse approval of PNM’s solar plan

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