It is high time for our elected public officials with the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to be part of the solution and not be the problem.
The mission of the PRC is to ensure New Mexicans have sufficient and reliable power and utilities, and the most reasonable price possible. Yet, on Dec. 8, 2021, it did the exact opposite when commissioners voted 5-0 to reject the PNM and Avangrid merger.
The PRC rejected this merger even after PNM CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn and executive after executive with PNM testified during the hearing that PNM does not have the capacity, finances or resources, nor the expertise, to meet the renewable energy needs of our state in the very near future and going forward. They heard the same testimony from dozens of leaders across our state and still they voted down this much-needed merger 5-0.
PRC Commissioner Steve Fischmann stated about the upcoming problem “throwing blame around won’t resolve the pending crisis, much of which was created by unforeseen circumstances, particularly the pandemic-induced supply-chain issues that nobody could have predicted. It’s Monday-morning quarterbacking.”
Fischmann went on, “COVID 19 and the supply-chain issues contributed to a set of circumstances that no one could have guessed. We need to stay focused on solving the problem for customers and not getting into a blame game.” PRC Chairman Joe Maestas said the commission needs to work with PNM on rapid solutions.
Of course we are blaming the commissioners. This is their job and why they were elected to do it in the first place. They are commissioners on the PRC and it’s their job to find these very solutions and ensure New Mexicans have sufficient power, especially during such high-use times as this coming summer.
This energy problem will be detrimental to families across our state, people in assisted living, people in prisons, hospitals, etc. The incompetence of this PRC is beginning to manifest itself in creating a scenario we just witnessed in Texas by its own incompetence.
During the hearing Dec. 8, PRC commissioners were asked that if PNM has already testified it doesn’t have the capacity to meet the renewable energy goals for New Mexico, then what is the alternative to meet these needs? They had no response. These are the elected officials who are supposed to regulate and manage energy and power for our state of New Mexico? This problem is real and we need competent people to make these kinds of decisions that can have life-or-death consequences.
These are different times, and we need solutions. States and companies are not walking around handing out excess energy like candy because everyone is getting drawn down through these high demands. I hope New Mexicans realize when we have 90-plus-degree temperatures this summer, we will likely experience long power outages because the PRC refuses to move forward on real solutions. The only solution we have at this point right now is to immediately approve the PNM/Avangrid merger so they can get to working on what we need as a state going forward. This is not a time to be playing politics with incompetence. This is high time to deliver to New Mexicans the power and infrastructure we need to function as a state.
If this PRC can’t deliver this to New Mexicans, then it has shirked its duties as elected PRC commissioners and placed New Mexicans in great danger. It is high time to do the right thing for New Mexico.