Santa Fe, NM – Solar energy and clean air got a reprieve Wednesday when the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted to withdraw 2-for-1 credit for solar energy, which had effectively reduced the amount of solar and overall renewable energy New Mexico utilities were required by law to produce. But Wednesday’s vote left some troubling aspects of the previous commission ruling.
The commission majority had acted without public comment on Nov. 20 when it adopted a proposal for 2-for-1 Renewable Energy Credits for solar energy and 3-for-1 credits for “other” renewable energy, such as geothermal and biomass. That proposal was introduced at that meeting; months after the deadline for public comment had closed.
Unfortunately, the commission did keep weighted credits for “other” renewable energy. The commission reduced the weight from triple to double credits for these types of renewables. There is still no evidence to support that weighting or the reasoning behind it, and the public has still not been able to comment on this aspect of the rule.
The amendments adopted Wednesday also specified that the rule approved Nov. 20 (which won’t be published until 2014) will not apply to utilities’ Renewable Procurement Plans filed in July 2013. This means that the request of New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers (UNM, Intel, the City of Albuquerque and others) that the commission reject PNM’s plans to build 23 megawatts of solar facilities in New Mexico in 2014 will not apply. PNM’s 2014 procurement plan was also approved today, including its solar procurements.
Commissioners Espinoza and Montoya opposed Wednesday’s vote in protest that the public wasn’t allowed to weigh in. Montoya and Espinoza had moved to take public comment on the changes and were voted down.
Wednesday’s changes left the Nov. 20 changes to cost calculations, which the Rio Grande Chapter opposes because they falsely inflate the apparent cost of renewables.
Sierra Club: Rio Grande Chapter Director