PRC approves damaging changes to renewables rule

Solar - City of Santa Fe - 1 MW © DVW

For Immediate Release:
April 16, 2014

Rio Grande Chapter statement on PRC decision to make damaging change to cost calculations in renewables rule

SANTA FE, NM - The Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday voted to make a damaging change to the rule that enforces New Mexico’s renewable-energy law.

Counsel Rick Blumenfeld deceptively told the commission that his recommendation addressed concerns of commenters and failed to tell the commission that most commenters had reached a consensus to keep the current rule intact.

The decision contradicts the final recommendations of nearly all participants, on all sides of the issue, who commented on the rehearing. CCAE, New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers, Western Resource Advocates, PNM and even PRC staff all recommended keeping the rule that was passed in December 2012 — the current rule on the books — intact.

PRC staff agreed with CCAE in its comment, saying "The current rule already greatly restricts the costs that consumers will pay for renewables."

The December 2012 rule itself implemented cost calculations that artificially inflate the cost of renewable energy for purposes of calculating the “Reasonable Cost Threshold.” The 2012 rule disallowed savings estimates that utilities had been using, making it harder for utilities to comply with Renewable Energy Act requirements without hitting the cost ceiling of 3 percent of customer bills.

“The changes approved Wednesday stack the deck even more against renewable energy,” said Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter director.

The commission did decide to abandon the most damaging changes being considered, which would effectively have reduced the percentage of renewables utilities were required to add and reduced requirements for a diverse portfolio of renewables. But the small change made Wednesday could stall future additions of renewable energy in New Mexico for a long time.

“Polls show New Mexicans heavily favor moving to renewable energy because they understand the long-term savings and benefits that solar and wind bring,” Feibelman said. “New Mexico’s policymakers should honor the will of their constituents by looking for ways to speed the transition toward clean energy, not make it harder to protect our families from the consequences of dirty air and a heating climate."

Camilla Feibelman * Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Director * 505-715-8388