By Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press
Albuquerque, NM (AP) – Future closures from a few remaining coal-fired power plants in the southwest of the United States have sparked controversy over financing and consumer prices.
Environmentalists and consumer advocates argue in regulatory files released on Thursday that the New Mexico public services company plans to continue collecting from customers the costs of operating the San Juan production station after it closes. That could be as much as 125 million.
The group is also concerned that New Mexico’s largest electricity provider plans to delay the use of bonds to recover lost investments in the power plant.
Buyers will repay the bonds through their bills over a period of 25 years, but the amount will be lower due to the lower interest rates on the bonds and because the utility will leave a profit on its investment.
Pete and Connell, senior analysts at Clean Energy Policy with Western Resources advocates, said Friday that buyers will not benefit from any savings until bonds are issued.
“Gas is also expensive and we are in a situation where people are paying their last dollar for a gas tank. It will help them to reduce their electricity bills now.” he said. “Delaying savings denies savings, so let’s have savings.”
Utility denies doubling its plans or that customers will lose savings.
The لګښت 8 million monthly cost-recovery cost collected through plant bills after the plant shut down will be used as credit when the rates are part of a lengthy process before the State Public Regulatory Commission next year. As reconsidered.
Proceeds from the pricing that covered San Juan would prevent the 4 2.4 billion investment that New Mexico Public Services Company has made in infrastructure, said Ray Sandoval, a spokesman for Utility.
He noted that the company had agreed to suspend demand for a price increase in 2020 in view of the economic consequences of coronavirus disease and then in 2021 as part of the integration negotiations that are now the focus of a legal battle to the state Supreme Court. Is.
Environmental and consumer advocacy groups are urging regulators to order an immediate reduction in consumer prices after Utility leaves the coal plant later this year.
They argued in regulatory documents that the description of the use of the state’s energy transfer law – which sets out renewable energy powers and manages financing related to the closure of the San Juan power plant – is “unnecessary and self-serving.”
The group estimates that the savings saved for regular residential electricity consumers will be around 50 9.50 per month.
By stopping the refund of that money, Sandoval said the New Mexico public services company was preventing customers from enduring the “price roller coaster”.
“PNM does not have the capability to double because the rates are set by the PRC,” he said.
Another issue is whether the interest rate will be more reasonable than when utility bonds issue. Consumer advocates say buyers will lose some of the expected savings if interest rates rise.
Mariel Nancy, executive director of the group’s New Energy Economy, said another option would be for the commission to create a regulatory liability account that would continue to track costs after the closure of the San Juan power plant so that the money could be returned to payers. Return when there are costs. Adjusted to the next price case.
She said: “The need for PNM to either issue a rate credit or create a regulatory account will protect the payer from over-collection of the PNM, an effective way to do this, and a commission to protect the payer. In line with the pricing authority. ” She said.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
One unit at the power plant is due to end on July 1 and the other will be shut down by the end of September, which will help the utility meet higher demand in the summer.
Utility should request an extension because the solar and battery projects that were supposed to replace the lost capacity have been postponed.
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