PRC hopes to finalize transportation electrification rule by end of year

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission unanimously approved the issuance of a notice of proposed rulemaking on Wednesday in hopes of finalizing the agency’s transportation electrification rule by the end of the year. This rule is intended to work hand in hand with the investor-owned utilities’ transportation electrification plans that the state regulators have already approved. It comes following lengthy pre-rulemaking stakeholder engagement, an effort that was spearheaded by Commissioner Joseph Maestas. That engagement included a statewide summit earlier this year, hosted by the consulting and engineering firm Gridworks. “This is a really important step for the entire state as transportation is the number two source of carbon emissions and state agencies and private entities are going to have to work hand and hand to transition New Mexico and its infrastructure toward a cleaner running, more sustainable future,” Maestas said. 

Rulemaking processes can be lengthy, but PRC General Counsel Russel Fisk said that the transportation electrification rule is not as complicated as some other rules the PRC has recently finalized, such as the community solar rules.

Torrez wins Democratic Party nomination for attorney general

Raúl Torrez won the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, defeating Brian Colón. Torrez is a former federal prosecutor whose resume includes attending both Harvard and Stanford universities. He currently serves as the Bernalillo County district attorney—a position he has held for five years—and that county provided him with a healthy advantage. As results came in, Torrez took 57.7 percent of the early and absentee voters in Bernalillo County. 

As the district attorney, Torrez announced last year a memorandum of understanding with the state Indian Affairs Division to form a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force subunit within the district attorney’s office. Torrez also served as assistant attorney general in 2008 and 2009 where he handled cases of police misconduct and exploitation of children.

PRC kicks off formal community solar rulemaking process

After months of informal stakeholder meetings, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission drafted a proposed community solar rule and  opened the formal rulemaking process. The PRC unanimously approved an order kicking off the formal process during its Wednesday meeting. The rules must be in place by April 1 under the Community Solar Act. 

The notice of proposed rulemaking will be published in the New Mexico Register on Nov. 9. After that, the public will have until Dec.

Cause of San Juan Generating Station cooling tower collapse remains unknown

While the cause of the collapse of a cooling tower at unit one of the San Juan Generating Station has not yet been identified, Public Service Company of New Mexico has provided the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission with some more information regarding the event. Following the collapse, the PRC issued a notice of inquiry into the incident, which occurred in late June, and opened a docket. PNM filed a response to questions raised in the notice of inquiry on Aug. 16 and the commission discussed the response during the weekly meeting on Wednesday. In its response, PNM stated that the cause of the collapse has not yet been identified.

PRC plans to open official inquiry into San Juan cooling tower collapse

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission plans to open an investigation into a cooling tower collapse that happened in late June at the San Juan Generating Station. “We had a major baseload component of our power system go down and we were in the dark about it,” said Commission Chairman Stephen Fischmann, who added that an investigation will create a formal record. This unanimous decision came after Public Service Company of New Mexico, the majority owner and operator of the plant, presented information to the commission during a Wednesday meeting. It was the first time that PNM officials spoke publicly about the incident. Mark Fenton, the executive director of regulatory policy for PNM, said the company was concerned that market prices could increase if it became widely known that the power plant’s unit was not supplying electricity to customers.

Long list of potential candidates in Santa Fe mayor’s race

Santa Fe’s mayoral election next March will likely look similar to Albuquerque’s current race  in terms of the number of candidates already showing interest. The current mayor, Javier Gonzales, announced he would not run for a second term, leaving no incumbent. Six people have already announced they plan to run for mayor in Santa Fe, and there’s still time for more to enter. The winner will be the first since the city passed an amendment to the city charter making the city a “strong mayor” governmental system. This means the mayor will have more power than the current system, where a city manager does much of the day-to-day work in the city.

Immigrants, advocates keep heat on

Hundreds of people packed into the rotunda of the Capitol on Monday in an intensifying show of alarm over President Donald Trump’s clamp down on illegal immigration and his vow to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. The demonstration reflected growing concern nationally among immigration and civil rights advocates as Trump’s flurry of executive orders in his first weeks in office have escalated to include banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, an effort temporarily halted last week by a federal court. The demonstrators included immigrants here legally and illegally and scores of supporters who gathered to listen to politicians and faith leaders rail against the president’s policies. Children stood near the speaker’s lectern holding a broad banner that read, “No ban. No wall.