PNM planned a $3 million charge to ratepayers to cover for their failed Skyblue program. Yesterday PRC Hearing Examiner sided with New Energy Economy and New Mexico ratepayers with her recommendation that 'the Commission should adopt NEE’s recommendation that PNM file an application to terminate the Sky Blue program within 30 days of issuance of a final order in this case.’”
PRC HEARING EXAMINER RECOMMENDS DENIAL OF PNM’S $3M CHARGE TO RATEPAYERS FOR FAILED SKYBLUE PROGRAM
Late afternoon on October 14, 2020, New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC”) Hearing Examiner Carolyn Glick recommended denial of compensation by ratepayers to Public Service Company of New Mexico resulting from its failed and expensive “Sky Blue” Renewable Program.
PNM sought approval to recover costs from all ratepayers through its Renewable Energy Rate Rider, in Case No. 20-00121-UT, for its claimed $2.3 million “under-collection” of its Sky Blue voluntary renewable program. Additionally, PNM sought cost recovery for an 8.64% “carrying charge” of $654,468 on that cumulative $2.3M, to collect the total amount of $3M beginning in 2021, plus another 4% carrying charge.
What is this about? PNM’s Sky Blue voluntary renewable energy program is sourced from a blend of solar and wind energy. Well-meaning people signed up for PNM’s Sky Blue to offset their energy consumption with renewable energy produced off-site for a premium charge.
The problem: solar and wind are LESS EXPENSIVE than PNM’s coal, nuclear, gas heavy portfolio, currently amounting to approximately 87% of PNM’s resources. Since April 2014, the costs of the Sky Blue program have exceeded its revenues, meaning that PNM has not had enough subscribers in the program to make it economically worthwhile: the costs of the program are greater than proceeds. (linked Recommended Decision, (“RD”), p. 7)
Despite the fact that PNM's Sky Blue program has been an economic failure with mounting under-collection of costs for years, PNM refused to inform the Commission in any of its annual renewable energy portfolio reports or proposed renewable energy plans.
PNM has kept its program failure secret for eight years!
And if the Hearing Examiner hadn’t denied PNM’s request, the Sky Blue program would have continued to cost PNM’s non-Sky Blue subscribing customers approximately $18,000 per month RD, p. 7.
Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy, stated: “Despite the failed high-cost renewable energy program, and the fact that PNM didn’t notify the PRC of these mounting losses for eight years, PNM sought to recoup the losses, magically turned profit, for PNM shareholders at the expense of ratepayers. If that wasn’t enough, PNM wanted to make consumers pay an additional surcharge of 8.64%, totaling $3Million.”
Thankfully for ratepayers, the Hearing Examiner wasn’t having it. She rejected PNM’s costs as unreasonable and protected consumers from the $3M grab. Further, the Hearing Examiner ruled: ‘the Commission should adopt NEE’s recommendation that PNM file an application to terminate the Sky Blue program within 30 days of issuance of a final order in this case.’” RD, pp. 8-9, 52, 53, 57.
The Hearing Examiner’s recommended decision stated as follows:
“Evidence in this case shows:
• Since April 2014, the costs of the Sky Blue program have exceeded its revenues;
• The Sky Blue program currently costs PNM’s non-subscribing customers approximately $18,000 per month;
• PNM has been largely unable to sell residual Sky Blue RECs to offset the regulatory asset;
• There is dissatisfaction with the Sky Blue program among its subscribers, due in part to a lack of understanding of the program; and
• Increasing subscription levels in the program would be difficult because of the high price of program participation.”
RD, pp. 7-8, 52.
“A PNM witness testified that (1) the Sky Blue program probably is not sustainable through its expected life; (2) approximately ten customers leave the program every month; and (3) less customers are willing to pay a premium for renewable energy as the cost of renewable energy falls.” RD, p. 8.
The recommended decision noted further that: 2020 PNM survey demonstrated that: among Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) customers that subscribed to the Sky Blue program, over 60% expressed interest in switching to a community solar program.
“Vigilance is required to protect ratepayers from PNM’s overreach. Thank goodness New Energy Economy had partner advocates to reveal that the Emperor has no clothes,” said Nanasi.
URGENT ALERT: Census Bureau Announces All Counting to Stop Tonight - Thursday, October 15
The U.S. Census Bureau has announced its plan to stop all enumeration efforts by midnight on Thursday, October 15. This announcement is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court suspension of the temporary injunction that had kept the count in the 2020 Census going.
According to the Census Bureau:
Internet self-response will be available through October 15 until 11:59 pm Hawaii Standard Time (4:00 am Mountain Time on October 16).
Phone response will be available during regularly scheduled hours through October 15.
Paper responses must be postmarked by October 15.
Nonresponse Follow-up census takers will continue resolving nonresponding addresses through the end of the day on October 15.
There are now less than 48 hours for our friends, family and neighbors to stand up and be counted. The time is NOW.
They can easily participate at my 2020census.gov or by calling (844) 330-2020.