I have worked in the renewable energy field in New Mexico for over 16 years and have spent time in New Mexico Public Regulation Commission hearings throughout. I have sat in those hearings and heard and watched how our commissioners participate if they were present. And I have testified to support renewable energy. As for Constitutional Amendment 1, I have read the pros and cons of this measure. Here is my perspective.
The energy transition from fossil fuels to clean energy over the next decade is the most challenging work we will ever do because of climate risks and economic impact to our state. And the heavy lifting of that works rests on our commissioners. The electricity portion makes up 40 percent of the fossil fuels today that was addressed by the Energy Transition Act.
The unaddressed part of this transition is more daunting. If we convert the rest of our fossil fuels used for transportation to electricity using electric vehicles and used for heating and cooling to electricity, then that more than doubles the grid loads putting a huge challenge on our commissioners. This is uncharted territory. We must have competent members of the Commission at the helm. And the duration must be long enough to bear fruit. Compared to what we have now, I would propose this is a step forward and is necessary given the monumental efforts, risks, and opportunities ahead.
My observations so far are that the best commissioner in my experience was appointed by a Republican governor, Doug Howe, who was qualified for the job and secondly, during my involvement, I can count up to only three the commissioners who sat on those seats and developed an understanding of the energy transition and were engaged in the work. I would conclude the current system does not work.
It adds costs to utilities and to the public to have unqualified or inexperienced individuals in that job. Our political system doesn’t look at qualifications of candidates when electing individuals like we would if we were interviewing to fill a key position in our organization.
So there is value in the idea of a government committee carefully vetting and selecting experts who could run the PRC because they are qualified to do so. I vote for Constitutional Amendment 1.
Taiyoko Sadewic works at a renewable energy company.