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PNM Chafes at Delays, Seeks NMPRC Ruling in 2015 Rate Case

August 31, 2016 By Cheryl Kaften

Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM) filed a response (Docket No. 15-00261-UT) on August 29 with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) – requesting that the NMPRC promptly make a ruling related to PNM’s August 27, 2015, general rate case filing.

The NMPRC had proposed reopening the case at its August 24 meeting, and had issued an Order on Possible Further Proceedings, extending the suspension period to December 15, 2016.

PNM filed its request last August for an increase in electric rates of $123.5 million, or 14.4 percent, reflecting a $655 million increase in its rate base since its previous general rate case filing in 2010.

Key capital additions to the rate base, as listed in the filing, included:

  • Four new solar centers online by 2016 (40 MW, $65 million) capable of powering 16,200 average homes;
  • La Luz Natural Gas Plant online by 2016 (40 MW, $50 million) to serve customers when demand is highest, to support renewable energy growth and to ensure reliable power under a variety of grid conditions;
  • Emission control equipment at San Juan Generating Station to comply with federal haze regulations ($58 million);
  • Critical resources for the future: Purchasing Rio Bravo Generating Station (formerly Delta Person) natural gas plant ($32 million) and purchasing leases for Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Unit 2 ($144 million); and
  • Investments to keep the electric system reliable, including a $61 million investment at PNM’s Rio Puerco Switching Station, $8 million to improve substation security and modernizing the company’s distribution system operations center.

Another driver, according to the company, has been declining energy usage, resulting from the still-recovering New Mexico economy and energy efficiency.

At the time, the utility said, “…the net customer bill increase would average 5.4 percent when other changes – including savings from a new coal supply contract. if the San Juan case is approved by the commission – are considered.”

Now, the utility is losing patience.”While we appreciate the Commission’s willingness to address the implications of the Hearing Examiner’s Recommended Decision, we cannot agree to further delays in the implementation of new rates,” said the CEO of parent company PNM Resources, Pat Vincent-Collawn, adding,  “We believe that the extensive record established in this proceeding provides the commission with a strong basis to make a balanced decision. As we indicated in our filed exceptions to the Recommended Decision, the record clearly demonstrates that our actions were prudent and that our proposed valuations presented in the rate case are reasonable.”

The suspension period in the case is currently in place through September 30, with implementation of new rates expected October 1. PNM’s response is available at http://www.pnmresources.com/investors/rates-and-filings.aspx

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