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We need a real debate on the benefits and the costs of Energy Transition Act

Senate Bill 489 – The Energy Transition Act – not so fast! The consequences of passing this bill without an honest debate could be devastating to the economics of our state.

Call it risk, call it unintended consequences, but to ignore bringing everything in the open … for political expediency is dishonest.

It is obvious that making New Mexico a completely carbon-free state will be a very expensive undertaking, and with the planned shutting down of the oil and gas industry, where will that money come from? New Mexico taxpayers and energy users. The shell game of PNM floating bonds to cover the cost and then raising energy rates to repay the bonds doesn’t hide the fact that we are going to pay for this transition.

How many wind farms and solar panels will we need to replace our current energy consumption? How many acres of the land we fight to keep pristine will be required? How much extra infrastructure will be required to transmit the electricity to where it is needed? What happens when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine? Batteries. Another cost, plus batteries have a limited life span, as do solar cells, and must be replaced. When we convert all our cars to electric, we have to charge their batteries – which takes electricity, which requires more energy systems. Then the gas stations will go out of business so our tourist trade will only support visitors with electric cars. Another source of income reduction. Don’t forget we have to maintain these complex energy systems.

We need a debate about how much our energy costs are going to go up, either through higher rates or taxes to subsidize the effort. It is not free. Business will see an increased overhead with higher energy costs, and we run the risk of businesses leaving or passing the costs onto the consumer. Businesses looking to move to New Mexico will have second thoughts with increased operating costs and taxes. Products made in New Mexico will be more expensive, which will drive consumers to buy products produced out of state. The list of consequences goes on.

And who gets hit the hardest? Low- and fixed-income folks. To use an old phrase, we are forcing them to make a decision whether to buy food for the table or pay their higher tax bill or energy costs. I hear the answer – subsidize them and make the rich pay it. How long will people with higher incomes stay in New Mexico with that strategy?

The biggest question is, what is the positive payback for New Mexico? What do we have to gain? If the only answer is the wish to reduce carbon dioxide in the air and save the planet, then let’s bring those facts to the table and include them in the discussion to ensure the return on investment is real.

The Energy Transition Act has far-reaching consequences for our state, and responsible people want to have an honest, in-depth debate about this effort. If the case can be made by the proponents of this bill that it will benefit New Mexico and its people, then let’s proceed.

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