(The Center Square) – New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Energy Transition Act into law in 2019, but three Democratic senators want changes because they say it pushed through too quickly.
Sens. William Tallman, D-Albuquerque, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, and Elizabeth Stefanics, D-Cerrillos, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the law needs to be amended to protect consumers more when it comes to rising energy bills because of the cost of transitioning to more expensive, alternative energy sources.
“The bottom line is, we’re trying to help,” Tallman told the New Mexican. “The Energy Transition Act should have done a very good job providing environmental protection and consumer protection. It succeeded on the former and failed on the latter.”
If the amended legislation, which has already been filed, is ratified, all control concerning future coal plant terminations would be allocated by the state Public Regulation Commission. The commission also gains control over plant-closing costs, which could end up in consumers’ bills. In addition, the 10-day appeal period concerning any of these actions would be extended to 30 days.
Larry Behrens, western states director for Power the Future, a nonprofit that aims to improve the national energy conversation, said amendments are not enough to fix the problems this law is making for New Mexicans.
“This bill needs to be fully repealed,” Behrens told The Center Square. “The amendments are an acknowledgment that this bill will do exactly what we said it would and that it will drastically raise rates on customers, and you’re already seeing it in New Mexico. Utilities are asking for rate increases to bring these unreliable power sources online, and customers who are struggling right now are going to have to foot the bill.”
Xcel Energy, which serves Southeast New Mexico, recently asked for an average rate hike of $9.80 per month per customer to help pay for its Sagamore Wind Project near Portales.
“It’s like the government forcing you to buy electric vehicles as opposed to what your family’s budget can afford and what you really need,” Behrens said. “The same is happening to the electric bill of every family in New Mexico.”
Behrens points out a nationwide health and economic crisis is a bad time to hit New Mexicans with rate increases.
“It is a one-two punch of misery for New Mexico’s families because at the time when they’re struggling to even find work, out-of-touch Santa Fe politicians are more than happy to raise their electric bills.”