Divided panel clears way for PNM rate increase
The Associated Press
January 10, 2018 10:10 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on Public Service Co. of New Mexico's rate case (all times local):
New Mexico regulators have cleared the way for an even smaller rate increase for customers of the state's largest electric utility while backtracking on an earlier finding that questioned investments made in a coal-fired power plant.
The 3-2 vote by the Public Regulation Commission came Wednesday following a hearing in Santa Fe.
Commissioners expressed frustration with the process after already having approved a 9 percent rate increase in December and finding that Public Service Co. of New Mexico's coal-related investments were not prudent.
Following Wednesday's debate, the commission moved to take up the prudency question in a future proceeding while reducing the rate increase to about 2 percent.
The change stems from the recent federal tax overhaul. Utility officials say customers will benefit because the utility won't need to raise as much revenue thanks to lower corporate taxes.
An attorney for New Mexico's largest electric utility says passage of the Republican tax plan that President Donald Trump signed into law last month stands to benefit its customers.
Rick Alvidrez told state regulators during a hearing Wednesday on a disputed rate increase that Public Service Co. of New Mexico plans to pass along savings from new lower corporate tax rates, meaning the utility would not have to recoup as much from customers.
Alvidrez also said a previous agreement reached with the state attorney general's office, consumer advocates and others regarding customer rates would be the best path forward.
The environmental group New Energy Economy told the Public Regulation Commission that the utility still should not be allowed to recover millions of dollars of investments in the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant.
The commission has yet to make a decision.
New Mexico regulators are scheduled to hear arguments in a contentious case regarding a rate increase for customers of the state's largest electric utility.
The Public Regulation Commission is rehearing the case Wednesday after Public Service Co. of New Mexico challenged an earlier decision that allowed for a rate hike but limited the utility's ability to recover investments made in two coal-fired power plants.
The utility was seeking to recoup about $150 million for improvements made to the Four Corners Power Plant and about $37 million in upgrades at the San Juan Generating Station, which could close as early as 2022.
New Energy Economy, an environmental group that has been critical of the utility, argues that customers shouldn't be saddled with the costs of what it considers imprudent investments.
The Associated Press
Updated: January 10, 2018 10:10 PM
Created: January 10, 2018 06:08 AM
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