- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Utility regulators are launching three weeks of hearings Monday to decide if the Public Service Company of New Mexico can implement a controversial rate hike of nearly 15 percent.

Environmental and consumer groups have opposed the plan as an attempt to push more rate responsibility from industrial and institutional customers to residential and commercial users, the Albuquerque Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1VKzOXb).

Public Service Company of New Mexico says the new revenue will pay for electric system investments it’s made since the last rate hike was approved in 2010.

Opponents plan a protest Monday when the rate case begins before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

But the commission won’t be accepting any more public comment because of a crowded meeting schedule, PRC hearing examiner Carolyn Glick said.

Camilla Feibelman, the Sierra Club Rio Grande chapter’s executive director, said some opponents might be confused by the process.

“Most people are coming to the rally on Monday, and I believe many are mistakenly thinking that’s when public comments will be accepted by the PRC,” Feibelman said.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission heard comments Thursday. Few attended, but those who did mostly spoke against the utility’s proposals.

AARP New Mexico representative Leonel Garza said Thursday that seniors and disabled people will be disproportionately affected.

“It would particularly affect the most vulnerable,” he said.

Carla Sonntag of the New Mexico Utility Shareholders Association spoke in favor of the utility.

“PNM has made significant investments in the electric system since its last rate case in 2010,” Sonntag said. “It needs to be able to capture and recover those costs while remaining competitive as an electric utility.”


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

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