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PNM tallies energy-efficiency savings

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Public Service Co. of New Mexico says its energy efficiency programs over the past decade have helped generate enough electricity savings to power 470,000 homes for a year.

The programs, which launched in 2007, have helped customers cut consumption by nearly 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity as of year-end 2017, PNM reported this week. That equals about 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions avoided over 10 years, or the equivalent of taking nearly 373,000 cars off the road, said PNM Vice President of External Affairs Becky Teague.

“Helping both residential and business customers save money by becoming more energy-wise is an important part of what we do, and they’ve done an incredible job over the past ten years,” Teague said in a prepared statement. “There are many reasons for customers to be energy efficient, including lowering energy bills and improving the environment in which we all live.”

The company spent more than $80 million since 2007 on a variety of programs to help customers lower consumption, including rebates for replacing energy-hog refrigerators, cooling equipment and appliances with more modern, efficient models. It’s offered partial reimbursements to business customers for upgrades to buildings and new energy-efficient home construction, plus home energy “checkups” for residential consumers in which utility representatives do on-site assessments to show homeowners how they can reduce consumption. During the walkthroughs, they install energy-efficient gadgets like light bulbs and smart power strips.

PNM and New Mexico’s other utilities have adopted energy efficiency measures to comply with the state’s Efficient Use of Energy Act, which requires them to achieve 5 percent savings off 2005 retail sales by 2014 and 10 percent by 2020.

Customers pay for PNM programs through a rate rider on bills, currently equal to about 3.2 percent of the total bill, or about $2.31 for an average residential customer using 600 kilowatt hours of electricity per month, said Steve Bean, PNM manager for energy efficiency design.

While the rate rider pays for customer rebates and other program expenses, the drop in consumer electric use has hurt PNM’s bottom line, since the utility’s fixed costs for things like transmission and distribution infrastructure remain unchanged.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has ordered a hearing to address those issues next fall.

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