New Mexico regulators reject utility’s work to recoup some investments in coal and nuclear plants

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Regulators rejected on Wednesday an exertion by New Mexico’s most significant electric utility to recoup from consumers millions of pounds of investments designed in a coal-fired energy plant in the northwestern corner of the condition and a nuclear power plant in neighboring Arizona.

The Community Regulation Commission’s decision signifies Public Provider Co. of New Mexico buyers will not have to bear some charges linked with PNM’s stake in the Four Corners Power Plant in close proximity to Farmington or in the Palo Verde Making Station outside the house of Phoenix. Commissioners mentioned people investments were not prudent.

Total, residential consumers will see a reduce in costs as a substitute of the 9.7% increase that the utility was seeking.

The fee stated in a statement that PNM even now will be ready to accumulate a fair return on its investments although giving trusted support to much more than 500,000 consumers about the state.

PNM filed a request for its initially level hike in decades in late 2022, saying the practically $64 million in supplemental income was wanted as component of a lengthy-expression approach to recoup $2.6 billion in investments necessary to modernize the grid and fulfill state mandates for transitioning absent from coal and normal gas.

The utility also experienced cited the expiration of lease agreements for energy from the Palo Verde plant and the drive to refinance financial debt to just take advantage of lower interest fees.

Listening to examiners with the Community Regulation Fee who reviewed the circumstance encouraged in December that the fee reject expenses affiliated with the sale of leases at Palo Verde to a 3rd party. They also stated PNM’s 2016 decision to commit in extending the life of the 4 Corners plant wasn’t prudent.

PNM officers said late Wednesday that they were examining the commission’s order. The utility has until eventually Feb. 2 to seek out a rehearing ahead of the commission.

Customer advocates and environmental teams had been pleased the fee opted to reject some of the expenditures involved with PNM’s investments.

“The fee regarded that PNM failed to do its because of diligence just before reinvesting in 4 Corners immediately after 2016, when there were obvious signs that coal is a high-priced and fatal fuel,” reported Matthew Gerhart, a senior legal professional with Sierra Club.

The utility experienced tried using to divest alone from 4 Corners by transferring its shares to a Navajo electricity corporation. On the other hand, regulators turned down that proposal, a selection that was later upheld by the New Mexico Supreme Court docket.

Found on the Navajo Country, the 4 Corners plant is operated by Arizona Community Service Co. The utility owns a majority of shares in the plant’s two remaining models.

Navajo Transitional Energy Co. experienced sought to acquire above PNM’s shares, indicating that stopping an early closure of the electrical power plant would assistance soften the economic blow to communities that have extended relied on tax income and work opportunities tied to coal-fired technology.

The close by San Juan Producing Station was shuttered in 2022, sending money ripples by the bordering communities. PNM had operated that plant for many years.

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