March 5, 2019

The Legislature should pass the Energy Transition Act

Courtesy Photo

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham during her 2019 State of the State address.

We have a unique opportunity to transform energy in New Mexico with the Energy Transition Act. Senate Bill 489 is bold, comprehensive legislation that will establish the state as a national leader in both renewable energy and address the causes of climate change, providing a pathway for a low-carbon energy transition away from coal and providing workforce training and transition assistance to affected communities.

On top of accelerating New Mexico’s march to the front lines of climate-conscious governance, the ETA is a fair deal for ratepayers in the state. This is landmark legislation for its ambitious and achievable renewable and carbon-free targets; it also provides for a conscientious and reasonable transition away from the San Juan Generating Station that does not overburden New Mexicans and will actually save consumers money.

Right now, PNM’s financing payments on the coal plant are passed onto ratepayers. Yes, we’re all already putting in for the San Juan station. The ETA’s securitization provision ensures that as the facilities are closed, the costs are refinanced into bonds at a lower rate—indeed significantly lower, meaning a lower fee for ratepayers. The ETA will protect consumers and result in substantial savings for PNM customers, benefiting New Mexicans across the state.

This is one of many reasons so many stakeholders have lent their support to this important proposal, more than a year in the making. The ETA puts tens of millions of economic relief into San Juan County to ensure that communities and workers impacted by the coal plant closure receive severance pay and job training. It directs the establishment of hundreds of millions of dollars of renewable energy to be developed in San Juan County, creating clean power for New Mexico, maintaining the tax base for the community and providing sustained renewable energy jobs.

The Energy Transition Act is a compromise. It takes from many proposed solutions and paves the best possible path forward to lead New Mexico into a clean energy future while protecting and supporting the San Juan community. The ETA will transform energy in New Mexico—it deserves our support.

Michelle Lujan Grisham is the governor of New Mexico.