Two bills in New Mexico’s legislature this session represent one of many attempts in recent years to retreat from our Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). New Mexico’s RPS prompts utilities to diversify their energy production by investing in renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and holds them accountable to meet modest thresholds.

HB 266 Renewable Energy Procurement Limits (Strickler) and HB 267 Utility Energy Efficiency & Load Management (Strickler) would take New Mexico a step back from our commitment to renewable energy & efficiency.

When the RPS was passed in 2002, it was ahead of its time in comparison to other states’ standards. Now many states have renewable energy standards that far surpass ours.

The RPS includes a provision called a “reasonable cost threshold,” which ensures that customers’ bills won’t change dramatically as a result of a utility complying with the standard. HB 266 reduces the reasonable cost threshold from 3% to 2%, and inserts an additional, unnecessary and exceedingly complex cost consideration – attempting to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

In addition to lower utility bills, all New Mexicans will benefit from the RPS in the long run: saving money from the avoided costs of new power plant construction, as well as the reduced health care costs resulting from cleaner air and water.

HB 266 was heard in House Energy & Natural Resources Committee last Friday and was tabled on a 6-5 vote. When a bill is tabled, the committee sets the bill aside for later consideration. The committee may or may not bring the bill back for another vote.

HB 267 would affect the Efficient Use of Energy Act (EUEA). The EUEA requires public utilities to implement all cost-effective energy efficiency programs, resulting in reduced energy demand and cost-savings for consumers. In fact, the efficiency programs of PNM, Xcel Energy and El Paso Electric implemented between 2008 and 2011 saved consumers of $190 million. HB 267 would strip the EUEA of the requirement to conduct all cost-effective efficiency measures, based on an arbitrary 1% cost cap. This would significantly weaken the Act, ultimately causing much higher utility bills in the future as failure to curb energy demand spurs the need to construct more power plants. Simply put: it’s cheaper to save energy than to make energy. Reducing investment in energy efficiency programs also disproportionately hurts lower-income New Mexicans who directly benefit from them.

HB 267 will be heard in House Energy & Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday. They meet at 8 am in Room 309. Interested in attending the hearing? Let us know! Contact us by emailing Liliana at Liliana@cvnm.org.

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