June 5, 2018 Read More →

New Mexico utility spends big to influence state PUC elections

Santa Fe New Mexican:

The company that probably powers your home is wielding a very different kind of power ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.

Public Service Company of New Mexico’s parent corporation pumped $440,000 over just the last few weeks into a political action committee promoting two incumbents for seats on the Public Regulation Commission and knocking their challengers. The five-member commission regulates PNM, the state’s largest electric utility. And the contributions made the company the top donor to PACs during the latest campaign finance reporting period.

The Public Regulation Commission has power over the rates electric utilities such as PNM can charge customers. That can have a big influence on the sources of energy these utilities invest in and develop—a big issue in the ongoing debate over coal vs. renewable energy sources.

Pahl Shipley, a spokesman for PNM Resources, said the company’s donations to the PAC are “legal, appropriate and necessary to help ensure a fair election.” “PNM Resources is supporting New Mexicans for Progress to ensure that voters have the facts regarding key energy and economic issues that will impact our customers and the state as a whole,” he said.

A leading critic of the company said the spending was “shocking but not surprising. There’s no longer even the pretense of regulation. When PNM’s parent company spends $440,000 to bankroll the regulators of their choice, we have to seriously question the ability of the commission to govern on behalf of the public,” said Mariel Nanasi, executive director of the nonprofit group New Energy Economy.

More: PNM Spends $440,000 in Race for its Regulator

 

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