Q&A: Public Regulation Commission District 3 Candidate Christopher B. Luchini
- NAME: Christopher B. Luchini
- POLITICAL PARTY: Libertarian
- OCCUPATION: Business owner
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Los Alamos
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I’m a co owner of a development state Geothermal Electric production company based in Texas. I’ve run and consulted for various green energy companies since 2009.
- EDUCATION: PhD in High Energy Physics, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: Chrisluchini.org
Why are you running for a seat on the commission?
The PRC needs technically competent commissioners; that those elected officials understand the technical, technological and economic aspects of the industries they regulate. My decade-long background in GeoThermal Electricity projects, I have practical experience in the complexities of non-carbon-based energy production and distribution. I recognize that these will be no private investment without risk-adjusted return on investment, and if the PRC is going to successfully manage the ETA it must be aggressive and innovative in how it regulates utilities.
What are some specific goals you want to accomplish as a commissioner?
Management of monopolistic utilities have little incentive to manage efficiently, as generally compensation for those utility managers is tied to revenue, because profit is heavily regulated by the PRC. Especially given the mandates of the ETA, now is the time to have the PRC incentivise responsible and innovative management of electrical utilities. To that end, non-core functions of the PRC should be reduced, transferred to other agencies, or those regulations eliminated.
What are your thoughts about the new Energy Transition Act, and how would you work to balance both utility and consumer interests as the state transitions away from fossil fuels to renewable resources and carbon-free generation?
In the short term, given the near impossible mandate to take non-carbon electricity from 3% to 50% in nine years, the investment in production and the often neglected distribution and electricity storage infrastructure needs to be fast and huge. Fast and huge investment is very expensive. If the ETA’s schedule is to be taken seriously, much of those monies must come from the utility customers. Even if all the value of the private utilities are liquidated and the stockholders zeroed out, there is not enough value to pay for the ETA’s mandates. Limiting the rate increases to what is needed and no more, and smoothing them out over time to prevent rate shock is the most critical job of the PRC.
Voters will decide in November on a constitutional amendment to change the five-member elected commission to a three-member body appointed by the governor. What are your thoughts about the proposal?
A partisan elected PRC is far from optimal, and I would prefer to see the PRC elected on a non-partisan basis. An appointed commission is much more prone to regulatory capture, where private interests, in this case the Green Energy industry, and the incumbent carbon based Private Utilities, have their representatives appointed.
The PRC operates as a quasi-judicial body that requires commissioners to possess specialized knowledge and experience to function fairly and efficiently in the public’s interest. In your opinion, what are those needed qualities, and how do you personally meet the qualifications?
I have a PhD in High Energy Physics, and have run various businesses in the private sector, including the GeoThermal Energy and oil and gas sector (companies) for more than two decades. Commissioners must have technical, business and economic knowledge and a background that supports their ability to come up to speed quickly on highly technical regulatory issues. I have that experience, knowledge and skill.
Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.