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Editorial: Renewable Charge Hits

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Before you freak out about a new renewable energy charge, consider that at the outset it will set you back less than half of the cost of a tall latte at Starbucks.

Public Service Company of New Mexico will be adding the charge to electric bills to recoup costs for its investments in solar, wind and other clean energy sources. The rate rider got Public Regulation Commission’s stamp of approval earlier this week.

Preliminary estimates indicate the average customer, who consumes about 600 kilowatt hours of electricity a month, could end up paying about $1.34 more each month for the new charge. It likely will be adjusted in coming years as PNM investments in renewable energy increase or decline.

PNM needs to recover about $18.29 million in renewable investments in 2012 that it made to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard requiring public utilities to derive at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources this year, 15 percent in 2015 and 20 percent in 2020.

That latte costs $2.80 plus tax. So $1.34 sounds like a good deal for clean energy for New Mexico consumers. And the practice of separating the charge so consumers know exactly what they are paying — rather than trying to hide it as some environmental groups advocated — is good public policy.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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