The proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 1, now heads the House.
If approved there, the proposed constitutional amendment would go to voters in a statewide election.
An independent nominating committee would set professional qualifications and vet the candidates before the governor picks an appointee.
The PRC is now a five-member board elected by voters.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Senate Minority Whip William Payne, R-Albuquerque; Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe; and Sen. Steven Neville, R-Aztec.
It passed the Senate on a 36-5 vote.
“With so much at stake in the utility industry, an industry that affects each and every household and business in the state, the people of New Mexico deserve to have qualified commissioners making decisions,” Payne said in a written statement.