December 4, 2017

What should be considered by PRC in rate cases

While I shall defer to my esteemed counterparts at the the PRC regarding utility regulation I do represent ratepayers in District 22 and I wanted to take this opportunity to explain what I look for when the legislature is considering issues that affect the taxpayer.

If possible, I look for multi-party consensus. While difficult to attain, given separate agendas and viewpoints on behalf of affected parties, it is possible after cooperation and compromise. In this spirit our State Attorney General, PNM, the Sierra Club, the Coalition for Clean and Affordable energy, as well as Western Resources Advocates are all signatories of a Revised Stipulated Agreement designed to “reach a fair, just, and reasonable resolution…consistent with public interest” in PNM’s current rate case before the PRC.

In addition to the aforementioned signers the PRC’s own Utility Division Staff has signed on to the the Stipulated Agreement. As a single member of a body of 112 legislators – who sits on multiple committees reviewing hundreds of bills – I can attest that staff recommendations are crucial and extremely valuable.

Appropriately, language in the Revised Stipulated Agreement allows for PNM to use their savings (corporate tax rate reduced to 20% from 35%) from the Federal Tax Bill, currently in conference committee, to mitigate costs to their customers. Commissioners should be weighing this potential customer benefit heavily when they vote on the Revised Stipulated Agreement.

Please call your Commissioner, as I will, and urge them to vote for the Revised Stipulated Agreement (Case #: 16-00276-UT). I would argue that a vote for the Stipulated Agreement further nurtures collaboration and compromise between environmentalists and the utilities, and is a well-deserved affirmation of PRC Staff.

James Smith is a Republican State Representative from District 22