January 19, 2018

PNM’s Energy Redevelopment Bond Act deserves consideration

To characterize PNM’s request for legislators to identify alternative vehicles to mitigate costs inherent to their industry, which are ultimately born by the consumer, as an attempt to circumvent Public Regulatory Commission (PRC) authority is not only disingenuous but also indicative of the opposition’s selective research.

A bi-partisan effort spearheaded by Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, and Sen. Steven Neville, Aztec, is underway as they have pre-filed the Energy Redevelopment Bond Act (SB 47). SB 47 is designed to provide the PRC a financial option for utility companies to trigger as a possible solution when addressing corporate debt. SB 47 is a “may” bill not a “shall” bill and in no way circumvents the regulatory jurisdiction of PRC regarding utility operations. In fact, SB 47 simply allows the PNM to submit an application to the PRC in which they would consider PNM’s intention to issue bonds. Rep. Bobby Gonzales, D-Ranchos De Taos, is carrying the House version.

False narratives such as that SB 47 saddles taxpayers with some sort of bailout and the legislation removes regulatory authority of the PRC are abound. Both are a stark contradictions of the very language and spirit of the bill. Opposition knows that legislative energy, government and judicial committees will weed out the inconsistencies and slights of hand a hybrid deliberative/judicial body may not have.

Arguments centered around “bailouts” are misguided because they conflate taxpayer bailouts of our financial institutions—most recently publicized during the the Great Recession—with a private financing tool aimed at mitigating corporate debt that must be approved by the PRC.

In an op-ed earlier this month, a legal consultant on assignment at NEE stated that PNM is not “entitled” to certain cost recoveries. Following typical NEE fashion their contract attorney again puts agenda and fundraising before thorough research. If anyone is “entitled” it is the rate-payer to have any and all options presented to industry and regulator to mitigate their costs.

Individuals and corporations alike must be afforded the right to appeal to multiple governing bodies lest we artificially inflate superiority of one body over the other.

Ned Farquhar, energy/environment advisor during Governor Bill Richardson’s first term, later served for five years as deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Interior Department in the Obama Administration.