Library filed under Energy Policy from New Mexico
Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, has argued that renewable energy standards drive up electricity prices. He contends that New Mexico’s adoption of the renewable energy standard in 2007 — along with regulations spelling out how much wind and solar could be a part of an investor-owned utility’s portfolio — led to a spike in electricity prices.
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission reversed an earlier decision Wednesday, voting 3-2 to make the value of solar energy equal to the value of wind energy for the state’s power companies. In November, the commission voted to make 1 kilowatt-hour of solar energy worth two renewable energy certificates. It left wind at a 1-to-1 ratio.
The rule, passed less than a year ago, establishes how much wind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy can be added by utilities in order to comply with the state’s renewable portfolio standard — a law requiring a certain percentage of the state’s electricity come from clean energy sources. After the PRC’s vote, one kilowatt-hour of wind energy will still be worth one certificate. But one kilowatt-hour of solar energy will now be worth two certificates, and one kilowatt-hour of other types of renewable energy, such as biomass or geothermal, will be worth three certificates.
Craig Johnson, a State Land Office auctioneer, supervised the bidding on the steps of the Torrance County courthouse. The outcome, however, was a foregone conclusion, in that Pacific Wind Development was the only bidder to submit the required documents – and nearly $89,000 in deposits and fees – before the 4 p.m. cutoff on Sept. 13.
State regulators voted unanimously Wednesday to cancel a planned public hearing next week over a controversial rule that defines and caps the costs of renewable energy to public utilities and their customers. The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission also voted to launch a whole new rule-making for the so-called reasonable cost threshold.
The Public Regulation Commission's utility staff had concerns with the rule from the moment the PRC approved it in December. ...PRC attorney Rick Blumenfeld convinced four of the five commissioners on Wednesday that the rule as written will hide the true cost of renewable energy to customers.
The commission, led by Democrat Jason Marks, said it would not accept more paper certificates from PNM. It wanted wind power. ...PNM executives say they were following the law, and should not be ordered to change course to suit the commissioners' desires.
PRC staff and Western Resource Advocates argued that the solar energy from those projects can't be used for both the voluntary Sky Blue program and to meet the renewable-energy portfolio standards. "PNM was asking to cannibalize the renewable-energy standards with their voluntary program."
New Mexico's largest electric utility is seeking a waiver from regulations that require the use of more renewable energy, saying it won't be able to comply next year without exceeding cost thresholds designed to protect customers.
Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is making good on campaign promises to drop new regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions as well as other controversial rules passed in the waning days of the previous administration. ...The order also directs agencies to review rules and regulations that are in place and determine which ones should be scrapped to improve economic development and job growth.
Electricity rates could increase 1 percent annually until 2020 for residential customers and 2 to 2.5 percent for industrial customers, said Mike Sims, generation manager for the electric utility. The average residential customer pays $70 each month for electricity. "It's going to definitely increase our costs," Sims said.
New Mexico's Public Regulation Commission ruled yesterday that companies that place renewable energy installations on the property of a customer and then sell the energy from the installation to the customer shouldn't be regulated as public utilities. ...renewable energy companies and advocates protested, saying the regulation of such on-site energy production would harm the burgeoning clean energy economy.
Must we wait until every tract of land from Kansas to California bristles with propeller-topped towers before wondering if there's a way to concentrate this new industry and consolidate transmission costs? Will we carpet the country in concrete-based wind farms only to discover more compact means of making and storing electricity?
The potential impacts of placing such tall wind turbines near communities was among topics at a meeting Tuesday in Santa Fe hosted by two community groups concerned about large-scale, wind-energy farms proposed in New Mexico. More than 50 people - among them rural residents, clean energy advocates and state officials - packed a room at the State Library.
Early in their development, long-bladed wind turbines were seen as threats to birds, especially migrating varieties used to crossing certain mountain passes. Now, in spite of technological improvements and efforts to keep their propellers off at critical times, lawsuits are descending on wind farms - working ones and some on the drawing boards - to turn them off or to stop development in the path of some birds' migration and in bat habitat. But behind some environmentalist arguments against the increasing clusters of wind turbines is a more basic, if less compelling objection: They're ugly. They can be noisy. Besides that, opponents wonder, how do we know they're not sending surges of electricity into the atmosphere, doing who-knows-what damage to animals, two- and four-legged alike?
New Mexico regulators have ordered an investigation into whether a tariff charged by the state's largest utility for a voluntary renewable energy program is just and reasonable. The state Public Regulation Commission announced Monday that it will review the tariff charged by Public Service Company of New Mexico for its Sky Blue program, in which customers elect to pay extra for wind-generated electricity. PRC Chairman Jason Marks questions whether the combined effects of the Sky Blue charge with a recently approved fuel adjustment surcharge and a tariff approved in an earlier rate case adds up to an overcharge for Sky Blue subscribers.
New Mexico's electric transmission grid has a critical need for expansion, Lyons told attendees at the Renew Energy Conference in Tucumcari on Thursday. For example, there is a proposed route across the center of the state by U-P-C, a company planning a windfarm development on trust and private lands in Lincoln and Torrance counties. U-P-C is looking at this route through Torrance, Lincoln, Socorro and Catron counties. However, Lyons said, "We have received some opposition about this particular project. Nobody wants it in their backyard. But we have a number of applications for new wind energy development, but unless be can move the power these projects are futile." ...And Quay County ranks high within the state, Lyons said. "The largest contiguous area of good-to-excellent resources is located near Tucumcari, near the Guadalupe Mountains in southern New Mexico, and in the northeastern part of the state near the Colorado and Oklahoma borders," Lyons said. "Right now," Lyons said, "the Land Office is negotiating with seven companies that have expressed an interest in investing in the state's wind energy generation portfolio." These applications equal an additional 400,760 acres of trust lands for wind farm development.
Green power at no extra fee became official this week as the City Council approved renewable energy tariffs for the Farmington electric utility. The new structure reverses a consultant's recommendation that drew fierce protest from green-minded utility customers. The consultant recommended charging $40 of utility customers who wanted to either sell self-generated solar power back to the utility or choose to purchase renewable power from a third party in blocks. The tariff accepted this week not only ignores the recommended $40 fee, it proposes to purchase self-generated power at 8 cents per kilowatt hour, the same amount the utility charges residents.
Gov. Bill Richardson approved all items in the capital outlay bill, including about $1.9 million to develop the site for and plan, design, construct, equip and furnish the North American Wind Research and Training Center at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari. Going into the legislative session, Mesalands officials had expressed hope for a larger appropriation because costs of wind turbines escalate with the rising costs of fuel, metals and manufacturing. Mesalands has been on spring break for the past week and Phillip Barry, college president, could not be reached for comment. The college wants to install a single wind turbine that could be used for maintenace and operational training of technicians and research on wind energy.
Governor Richardson has signed into law two bills he says make New Mexico what he calls the “clean energy state.” One measure quadruples the use of clean electricity. It requires that by the year 2020, utilities must be getting 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. The other bill creates a transmission authority that will help the state export solar, wind and other renewable energy. The governor says the measures not only will help keep New Mexico’s air clean, but will create new high-tech jobs in the state.