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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Center for Civic Policy Airing Ad Opposing PNM Electric Rate Hike

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) will rule as early as this month on PNM’s latest request to increase electric rates. Starting today, the Center for Civic Policy is running a radio ad advocating against the rate hike and encouraging consumers to contact the PRC to urge them to reject another raise in the price of electric service in the state. Click to listen to the ad:

Your Money or Your Lights (mp3).

“The purpose of the radio spot is to educate PNM ratepayers across the state. Consumers have a right to know about the company’s proposal for another rate increase,” said Stephanie Maez-Gibson, Center for Civic Policy's communications director.

“Ratepayers are entitled to the facts. Fact, this is would be the third rate hike in three years. Fact, last year PNM’s Chairman and top four executives pocketed $5 million in bonuses and compensation alone. Fact, this rate case is costing consumers $3.7 million – yes, PNM is spending our money to raise our rates,” said Maez-Gibson.

“Bottom line –- consumers have a voice through their representatives on the Public Regulation Commission. We can collectively encourage the commission to insist that PNM begin managing its money more effectively to prevent this and future unfair rate hikes.”

Prosperity Works, an intervenor in the rate case, weighed in on the ad sponsored by CCC. “In New Mexico, residents have no choice in their electric provider. There is no competition to keep prices down, no incentive for utilities to watch expenses and stay competitive. All we have to ensure fair and reasonable rates is the Public Regulation Commission,” said Camela Starce, Prosperity Works lead counsel.

“It's up to the residents to let their elected Commissioners know that PNM does not deserve another 21.5% in revenue increases, which is what the Hearing Examiner estimates PNM will get if the rate hike is approved. In this case, it is the rate payers who need relief, not the utility company,” added Starce

PNM is asking for an $85 million hike in revenues from customers, which the utility claims is needed to pay for its rising costs, capital spending and shareholder payouts. PNM Is also requesting about $60 million in additional increases for certain riders and capital projects over the next two years. Since 2008 the public utility has benefited from a 21% increase in billed costs to its electric consumers.

On June 22, PRC hearing examiner Carolyn Glick recommended approval of an agreement that PNM claims would increase electricity base rates by 10.8 percent or $85 million. However, she also suggested eliminating a one-time $20 million additional charge requested by PNM for capital projects, and proposed a different residential rate design structure that would affect customers differently depending on their usage.

July 6, 2011 at 08:26 AM in Energy, NM Public Regulation Commission, Regulation | Permalink