New Mexico Law Gives Private Utilities Unchecked Power Over Shift to Renewables

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The ink’s barely dry on the Energy Transition Act (ETA), a new law in New Mexico enabling utilities to recoup costs as they transition away from coal, gas and nuclear plants.

While proponents of the bill have suggested it should be a template for the Green New Deal nationwide, its opponents see it as a pro-industry test case that must be nipped in the bud. They have now filed a complaint to the New Mexico Supreme Court to stop its implementation.

New Energy Economy, Inc., Citizens for Fair Rates & the Environment, Food & Water Watch, Physicians for Social Responsibility-New Mexico, Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens, and Navajo Council Delegate Daniel E. Tso filed the scorching complaint in Santa Fe on August 26, saying the ETA bypasses regulatory scrutiny that rests in the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC), is unconstitutional, and is unlawful.

When Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the ETA into law on March 22, she characterized the new legislation as “a promise to future generations of New Mexicans, who will benefit from both a cleaner environment and a more robust energy economy with exciting career and job opportunities.” While critics deride the ETA as an unnecessary and potentially dangerous public policy that moves the state away from checking corporate profit-making in the public interest, the administration views the legislation as a helpful toolkit to support energy transitions. At this long-awaited juncture, those who’ve held state power and those who seek to share that power are set to engage in a tense give-and-take. But the ETA takes from ratepayers and small-scale renewable energy producers in extreme ways that strip them of protections.
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