Our northern New Mexico organizing program is working on advancing clean energy policies so that local communities will benefit from the economic growth and job creation from expanding the industry. CVNM and our partners at Kit Carson Electric Co-operative urge support for SB 357 at the New Mexico Legislature.
From Kit Carson, benefits of Passing SB 357:
The purpose of Senate Bill 357 atits core is transparency andaccountability of generation and transmission rates charged by theGeneration and Transmission Cooperatives (G&T’s) in the State of New Mexico. Today there are two G&T’s that operatewithin the State, Western Farmers andTri State. The bill proposes thatif the G&T owns and operates, high voltage transmission facilities that arenot subject the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rate authority thenthe NMPRC shall assert jurisdiction oftransmission rates charged New Mexico entities that require transmissionservices from one of the respective G & T’s if that entity is not a memberof the respective G&T. The NMPRC should then assure through a protest process determine if the rate isjust and reasonable before the proposed transmission rate goes intoeffect. Since the nature of thetransmission system models more a monopoly, the business model needs a check and balance mechanism throughrate regulation by either the federal government or state of NM through thePRC.
It is understood that Tri-State is not regulated by FERC and that Western Farmers transmission in NM is in the SPP (the southwest power pool) which is subject to FERC jurisdiction. All the Tri-State members are also transmission customers.
The proposed change in SB 357would be to decrease the number of protestsfrom a member cooperative of the G&T from 3 Co-ops to 1 Co-op. Allowinga single Co-op to protest the generation and transmission rates. This wouldoffer more transparency of rates that the respective cooperative members arepaying since the examination would determine if the rate proposed is just andreasonable. It would also examine other opportunities such as renewable energyand storage applications. The proposed change is more consistent with theprocess a distribution cooperative has which is 25 members or 1% of a memberclass can cause a rate review. Thecurrent number of 3 cooperatives equate to between 28% to 75% of membercooperatives can cause a rate review. Changing the number to 1 would change that percentage to between 9% to25% and also enable more members of the cooperative to participate in the rateproceeding.
On average a residential electric bill is 70% the cost of power and transmission and 30% distribution. The proposed change would give the members a chance to reduce the cost of the largest portion of their home bill.