We and 10 additional state legislators plan to petition the Public Regulation Commission to initiate a formal study of the benefits and feasibility of a public power path in New Mexico:

  • To determine the costs, benefits and pathways to public power.
  • To evaluate whether implementation of public power will protect the public interest, reduce and stabilize electricity rates, create revenue generation for the state, and result in the deployment of 100 percent renewables plus storage and enhance local economic benefits.
  • To assess how might public power accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

Trillions of dollars will be invested in energy infrastructure across the United States in the next 10 years. From federal policies to market forces to the inevitable replacement of fossil fuel facilities, the transition to renewable energy sources will necessitate a massive restructuring of the power grid, generation as well as ownership and control. With some of the highest solar and wind capacity nationwide, New Mexico will have important decisions and opportunities as this transition unfolds.

To take advantage of the significant potential benefits at this critical juncture, state leaders, regulators and legislators need the advice of unbiased technical experts and the capacity to envision alternatives to our current structures. Public power ownership holds tremendous potential. And, a publicly owned utility is understood to provide long-term value, with benefits including rate stability, local jobs, policies aligned with community values and significant opportunities for revenue from local energy consumption and energy exports that would otherwise flow to private corporations and shareholders.

The American Public Power Association reports there are more than 2,000 public power utilities throughout the U.S. Public power exists to benefit the community while investor-owned utilities’ primary responsibility is to benefit shareholders. Public power customers (1 in 7 U.S. residents) pay an average of 11 percent less than customers of investor-owned utilities and receive more reliable service. In 2019, more than 40 percent of public power was from renewable energy.

For New Mexicans, the public power economy is significant, keeping our money in our communities. Publicly owned utilities can reinvest profits from energy sales in local jobs, lower energy costs for low-income customers and invest in local causes. If Los Angeles’ 1.4 million customers can be served by a publicly owned utility, we have yet to find a reason that New Mexico’s 750,000 customers of investor-owned utilities cannot do the same.

“We no longer need to trade off the environment and the economy against each other as we have abundant natural resources in New Mexico. We must look at alternative ways to structure the provision of energy so that we can meet our goals as quickly and equitably as possible,” said Sen. Liz Stefanics.

“Technology disruptions are already underway in the energy and transportation sectors which have extraordinary implications for addressing climate change. This petition is about exploring our alternatives and choices which several states, including Colorado, are investigating currently. We must be well informed,” said Rep. Andrea Romero.

“Solar, wind and batteries are disrupting coal, nuclear, oil and gas. Will we be able to deploy these technologies rapidly enough to avoid dangerous climate change? What if we could scale what Picuris Pueblo has done for all Pueblos? This study will evaluate the central role energy has on natural systems and human systems and our economy which is why I support this analysis,” said Rep. Derrick Lente.

“As a former city manager of two cities who owned and operated their electric and gas utilities, I am a strong supporter of public utilities. The citizens of both communities took great pride in the fact that they had local control over their electric and gas utilities — our rates were cheaper, and in both cities 10 percent of the gross utility revenues were transferred to the cities’ general fund,” said Sen. Bill Tallman.

Rep. Andrea Romero, Sen. Liz Stefanics, Rep. Derrick Lente and Sen. Bill Tallman will be working with 10 other legislators to pass a memorial to study public power in the 2022 legislative session.

(1) comment

Mike Johnson

Considering the lead author of this political diatribe, I don't think I need to read much further. She is well known for her "approach" to tax payer money, transparency, and public disclosures.

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