- Associated Press - Sunday, December 13, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Some industrial energy consumers in New Mexico are protesting a move to make large-scale electricity customers pay for fuel savings they now enjoy from Public Service Co. of New Mexico’s investments in renewable energy.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1RLHMO8) that about two dozen industrial energy consumers could be hit with a $1.5 million annual bill if state regulators stand by their decision to make large-scale electricity customers pay for the fuel savings.

Additionally, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority and the University of New Mexico would together face about $500,000 in new charges, even though they have already invested millions of dollars on their own to generate renewable energy.

A hearing examiner for the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission had concluded that large-scale industrial and institutional consumers receive a disproportional share of those savings while enjoying legal protections that either limit or fully eliminate the amount they must pay to support PNM’s renewable investments.

The five-member commission agreed and the PRC now says those big users should pay those savings back to the electric utility to share more of the benefits with ratepayers in general.

New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers is appealing the Nov. 18 decision that orders the entities to pay for allegedly “windfall” benefits they receive through lower fuel charges on their PNM bills.

Opponents say that would unfairly affect industrial consumers with annual bills that, in the case of companies like Intel Corp., could mean a sudden charge of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And, while those companies would simply have to absorb the new costs, ratepayers would be forced to pick up the tab for fuel savings for the water utility, and taxpayers would foot the bill for UNM.

If regulators don’t reverse their decision, opponents are expected to take the case to the state Supreme Court, because they believe state laws shield them against the charges the commission wants them to pay.

PNM hasn’t taken a stance on the issue.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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