During groundbreaking of SunZia transmission line, lawmakers discuss the future of New Mexico’s electric grid

The electric grid in the United States was built in a time when populations were smaller, climate change was not a concern and cybersecurity wasn’t something people were thinking about. But that is changing and Rikki Seguin, the executive director of Interwest Energy Alliance, said a regional transmission organization is needed to help address challenges associated with that. Seguin presented to the interim Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee on Friday during its meeting in Corona. She compared an RTO to air traffic control for electric wires, in particular transmission lines. “When we’re talking about transmission, we’re talking about transmission lines, which are the high voltage, big power lines that you are likely used to seeing when you drive down the highway, not the little lines that you see when you’re driving down your neighborhood streets, we consider those distribution lines,” she said.

Doug Campion of EnergyWorks talks about the Morales family of Albuquerque's electrical panel as White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu and Martin Heinrich listen on July 6, 2023.

Heinrich, Biden official tour home made more efficient with federal funds

White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu and Sen. Martin Heinrich toured a home in Albuquerque’s International District that was having its electrical systems upgraded. Landrieu and Heinrich visited the Morales’ home near La Mesa Elementary in Albuquerque. The Morales family bought the home in 1962 and its current owner is single mother Jennifer Morales, who lives there with her four children. 

The system upgrades were more than just to make the home more environmentally sustainable, it was also to make the home healthier, safer and more comfortable for the Morales family, Ona Porter of Prosperity Works New Mexico said. Poverty advocacy group Prosperity Works was the organization that helped the family access the upgrades, including air sealing window frames and weatherizing outside doors, water heater tank and pipe insulation and installing a 200 amp electric service panel. In all, the upgrades were worth $10,550.

Industry comes out in force, committee kills energy surtax for early childhood ed funding

On Tuesday a bill to fund early childhood education programs with two new taxes on energy and electricity producers failed to make it out of committee. During the Senate Conservation Committee meeting, Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, sought support for a bill that would create an early childhood education fund paid for by a one-hundredth percent oil and gas energy surtax and a one cent per kilowatt hour tax on electricity produced in New Mexico. The two revenue sources would generate more than $320 million annually, according to the fiscal impact report for Senate Bill 288. Once the meeting was opened for public comments, not one audience member spoke in support of the bill. But more than a dozen lobbyists and representatives of the oil and gas industry and utilities like PNM, El Paso Electric, Xcel Energy and Tri-State Generation and Transmission opposed it.