Supporters of renewable energy pack PRC meeting

By Mona Blaber
Communications director
It isn’t often that the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission holds its meetings in front of more than a few lawyers, staff and representativs of regulated companies.
But on Sept. 10, when commissioners took public comments on changes to an important rule that implements New Mexico’s Renewable Energy Act, supporters of clean energy showed up in such large numbers that the hearing had to be moved to a larger auditorium.
Many of those attending were not permitted to speak because they had submitted written comments. Even so, more than 40 small-business owners, solar-panel installers, representatives of community organizations and ratepayers called on commissioners to reject amendments to the rule that would endanger New Mexico’s solar industry.
Only three citizens spoke in favor of the proposed amendments, which would eliminate requirements for a diverse mix of renewables and would change the way the costs of renewables are calculated.
Employees of solar installers spoke on behalf of their jobs. Solar companies called for a stable regulatory environment. Citizen groups called on commissioners to allow the rule, which was just approved by the commission in December, to be applied for enough time to allow it to be properly assessed.
More than 1,400 New Mexicans have contacted their commissioners through action alerts by Rio Grande Chapter, Conservation Voters New Mexico and Environment New Mexico.
“We are asking the commissioners to maintain the current rule. We are asking them to let the rule work. The amendments that have been proposed to them would damage New Mexico’s burgeoning solar industry,” said Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter.
The commission has not yet scheduled a vote on the changes, which were proposed by New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers and anti-renewables forces at the Attorney General’s Office.
The Rio Grande Chapter will continue to update you. To sign up for our action alerts, go to riograndesierraclub.org.

What New Mexicans told the PRC:
Here are a few excerpts of what New Mexicans wrote to their Public Regulation Commission representatives about keeping the current “Reasonable Cost Threshold” rule, which implements the state Renewable Energy Act:
“I am a student at New Mexico Tech. Many of my peers plan to work with renewable energies after graduation. The young adults in southern New Mexico know that diversifying our sources of electricity now will pay us back tenfold in the future.” — Socorro
“We really don’t have the time to waste arguing about something as essential as our necessary transition to renewable energy. Let’s get on with it!” — Clovis
“NM desperately needs to develop alternative energy sources to protect us from new mining and fracking. We need to do all we can to promote solar energy.” — Grants
“Solar energy development is one of our best hopes for improving our economy AND for helping our environment.” — Albuquerque
“Our future energy security depends on supporting and developing renewable energy sources. We need this development now for our present needs, but it’s even more crucial for us to act now to ensure that our descendents have affordable energy sources.” — Las Vegas
“We live in a state that is blessed with both abundant sun and wind. Why are they not being used? Yes, the power companies want to make their millions, but we need to change the way things work, the way such problems are addressed.” — Dulce
“While traveling I see fields of solar panels throughout states with far fewer sunny days than in New Mexico. I want to see our state as a leader, not a follower in solar energy development.” — Las Cruces
“We need a diversity of renewable energy in order to protect future generations.” — Albuquerque
“Don’t let greed overpower wisdom.”
— Albuquerque
“Are you thinking about what kind of world your grandchildren will inherit? I’m thinking about that.”
— Albuquerque
“We, the citizens of New Mexico, have an opportunity to be leaders in an industry that is tantamount to a sustainable, clean future. That industry is solar energy, and I strongly urge you to help make the short-term, tough decisions now to secure us a future of which we can be proud.” — Los Alamos
“PLEASE don’t use the state’s resources to grant favors.” — Arroyo Seco
“Given the outstanding suitability of solar energy use and development in Northern New Mexico (as well as the rest of the state!) any reduction of the current definition of “fully diversified renewable energy portfolio” would be very likely to swing utilities toward wind power alone.” — Santa Fe
“Please don’t gut the one piece of regulation that keeps us moving forward. Our kids and grandkids would look back on this act as a defining tragedy for them and for our beautiful state.” — Santa Fe

“Short-term profits for entrenched interests cannot be allowed to outweigh the long-term benefits for our citizenry as a whole.” — Santa Fe