The New Mexico State Legislature briefly considered a bill that would freeze the state’s renewable energy standard, but it failed to move through the Senate after passing the House.
The Heartland Institute published a blog attacking opponents of the anti-clean energy bill and promoted the views of State Policy Network member, the Rio Grande Foundation, in pushing for the RES repeal. The Rio Grande Foundation hosted Heartland’s James Taylor on April 8, 2015 to discuss electricity in New Mexico.
Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, erroneously said freezing the rates would benefit ratepayers:
Since adopting its current, aggressive renewable portfolio standard, New Mexicans have seen their electricity rates rise dramatically, with rates jumping nearly 40 percent for residential customers over that time frame” and the bill “would provide welcome relief for New Mexicans facing a still-struggling state economy and the prospect of even more rapid growth in electricity costs.
Despite misinformation from Heartland and the Rio Grande Foundation, data from the Energy Information Administration shows that the New Mexico RES is not causing an increase in electricity prices. The average increase in electricity prices across the United States from 2012 to 2013 was 2.86% while the increase in electricity prices in New Mexico was 2.74%. And according to an empirical study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, renewable energy standards have not caused electricity rates to increase more rapidly than states that do not have these standards.
New Mexico Net Metering Attacked
The Public Service of New Mexico (PNM), the largest electricity provider in the state, also went after clean energy this year. The utility filed a proposed rate change at the end 2014 and carried into 2015 that would have added a $6 per kilowatt per month charge on solar owners. The fee would have added $18 to $36 to monthly electric bills, in addition to the overall rate increase proposed by the utility.
On May 13, 2015, the state’s Public Regulation Commission unanimously rejected PNM’s plan. The rejection follows an earlier recommendation from a hearing examiner who criticized PNM for failing to present adequate information to justify the solar fee and rate increase. Attorney General Hector Balderas also supported a motion to dismiss the monthly solar charge.