PRC reform bill heads to the Senate after narrow passage in House

A proposal to make structural changes to the Public Regulation Commission passed the House floor with a narrow vote of 36-34 after a three-hour debate Sunday evening. HB 11 is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Nathan Small of Las Cruces and Linda Trujillo of Santa Fe. It would restructure the PRC with the aim of streamlining operations and making the commission more efficient. RELATED: PRC reform bill advances with big concerns

The bill “strengthens and simplifies the Public Regulation Commission,” Small said, adding that the bill “appropriately separates the decision making function from the advocacy function.” Small said he met with former and current PRC staff, including commissioners; and considered other other utility commissions from other states in drafting the legislation.

House passes renewable energy investment plan proposal

The state House passed a memorial that would direct the State Investment Council (SIC) to explore investment opportunities in renewable energy, transmission and storage. HM 9 directs the SIC and the State Land Office to collaborate together on developing a strategic plan for investing in renewables and related projects within the state. “The goal of this memorial is to invest more renewables in our state,” said Democratic Rep. and bill sponsor Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde. “Our state has the second highest solar density in the country, second to the Mojave Desert in California. The renewable industry is booming in other states, this is a great opportunity to move forward in this area.”

Democratic Reps.

House EV tax credit heads to the Senate

A proposal to create an electric vehicle tax credit passed the House floor late Friday with a vote of 40-27. Legislators introduced two different versions of the proposal, one in the House and one in the Senate, but the House version has advanced further than the Senate version of the bill, which is not expected to move out of the Senate Finance Committee before the session ends next week. RELATED: House version of electric vehicle tax credit advances

Bill sponsor and Mesilla Democratic Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena introduced a substitute bill on the floor, which she said offered a compromise with the Senate’s version. HB 217 would establish a $2,500 tax credit for residents whose annual income is above $50,000; but the tax credit jumps to $5,000 for residents who make less than $50,000. The bill would also establish a $300 income tax credit for the acquisition of a residential electric vehicle charging unit.

Grid modernization proposal advances to Senate; community solar bill dies

A bill to modernize the state’s electricity grid passed the House floor late Thursday with a vote of 61-1. Proponents say the bill would help integrate renewable energy resources into the state’s electric infrastructure. HB 233 directs the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to develop a strategic roadmap for updating the state’s electric grid. The bill would also create a competitive grant program to support local communities in implementing grid modernization projects. The bipartisan bill has 17 co-sponsors.

PRC reform bill heads to House floor

Las Cruces Democratic Rep. Nathan Small’s proposal to restructure the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) passed its second committee late Wednesday with a 7-3 vote. Small and bill co-sponsor Rep. Linda Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, introduced a substitute version of HB 11 to the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation would restructure the PRC with the aim of streamlining operations and improving efficiencies. Small pointed to staffing issues, structural ambiguity and lack of stability as some of the chief issues at the PRC, and described the bill as a “modernization effort.”

“I think we can all agree that in this rapidly changing and technological world, we do well when we support the professionalization and addition of staff, we better protect staff, and we ensure a highly professionalized body that is able to carry out these very important technical regulatory functions,” Small said. “That’s exactly what our legislation does.”

Trujillo and Small said the substitute bill included some technical changes to the proposal in response to concerns brought up during the bill’s last committee hearing in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

House version of electric vehicle tax credit advances

A proposal to create an electric vehicle tax credit is headed to the House floor after passing its second committee on Wednesday along party lines. HB 217 is one of two proposals for an EV tax credit, along with SB 2. The two bills are very similar but have key differences between them. Democratic Rep. Jim Trujillo of Santa Fe presented HB 217 to the House Taxation and Revenue Committee. The bill would establish two personal income tax credits for New Mexicans: one for purchasing or leasing plug-in hybrid vehicles or 100 percent battery electric vehicles; and a second tax credit for installing charging infrastructure at the home.

Gas tax bill dies in committee

A bill that would raise the state’s gasoline tax was tabled in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee Monday evening and is unlikely to advance in the remaining ten days of the 30-day Legislative session. “New Mexico has the fourth lowest gas tax in the nation, and we have the third worst roads in the nation. And those two items are connected,” said bill sponsor and Democratic Rep. Matthew McQueen, who represents parts of Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Torrance and Valencia counties. HB 173 would create a new gasoline and special fuel surtax of 10 cents per gallon, which would take effect in Fiscal Year 2021. The surtax would then increase by 5 cents per gallon annually until 2026.

Grid modernization bill advances to House floor

A bill aimed at updating the state’s aging electric infrastructure passed its second committee Monday. The proposal passed the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs committee without opposition or discussion. Albuquerque Democrat Rep. Melanie Stansbury presented HB 233 to the committee with Rep. Abbas Akhil, D-Santa Fe, and Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview. “I am one of the 17 co-sponsors,” Stansbury said. “This is fundamentally a good government bill.”

HB 233 directs the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to develop a strategic roadmap for updating the state’s electric grid.

Transmission line bill passes House

The State House passed a proposal over the weekend aimed at expanding electricity transmission lines in the state. The bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Nathan Small of Las Cruces, passed with bipartisan support with a vote of 48-21 on Saturday after a two-hour debate. HB 50 would make transmission line projects eligible for Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) issued by counties and municipalities. The bill’s proponents argued during earlier committee meetings it would support more renewable energy development in the state and would help bring wind energy generated in New Mexico to western markets. “The Industrial Revenue Bond process, which is voluntary, allows our counties and municipalities to construct these local agreements in order to foster economic development,” Small said.

PRC reform bill advances with big concerns

A bill to make big changes to the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) passed its first committee despite lingering questions over the proposal. After a length debate, the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee passed the bill Thursday with a vote of 8-5 along party lines. Democratic Reps. Nathan Small of Las Cruces and Rep. Linda Trujillo of Santa Fe presented HB 11 to the committee. The legislation would restructure the PRC with the aim of streamlining operations and improving efficiencies that Small and Trujillo contend are holding the state back and hurting New Mexico residents.