Letters to the Editor

Vote yes on PRC reform

Editor:

During the 2019 legislative session, we co-sponsored the joint resolution proposing a restructuring of the Public Regulation Commission (PRC), the powerful body responsible for regulating utilities, transportation, telecommunication and other industries in the state. The measure passed both chambers with sweeping, bipartisan support, and now comes before voters as a constitutional amendment in the upcoming election. We strongly urge all New Mexicans to vote in favor of this measure.

Currently the PRC is led by five elected members. Under the proposal, the commission would be comprised of three appointed members. New candidates would be vetted and submitted to the governor by a nominating committee, then appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. No more than two commissioners could be members of the same party, and they would serve six-year staggered terms with a two-term limit.

So, why the change, why now, and why is this good for New Mexico? The scope of the PRC is complex and wide-ranging. They have the power to set utility rates, and will shoulder much of the responsibility of guiding the state through its transition to a renewable energy portfolio. To do their jobs well, commissioners must have a rare combination of skills: technological expertise, legal acumen, and a keen knowledge of regulatory matters.

The current structure of the PRC is not delivering for New Mexicans. Special interests and big money, rather than professional qualifications, too often determine who serves on the commission. This is not a position conducive to on-the-job training. In the words of current Commission Chairman Steve Fischmann and current Commissioner Cynthia Hall, who both support the amendment, “Commissioners should be experts at the outset, not rookies.”

A lack of professional qualifications isn’t the only issue keeping the PRC from functioning as it should. For years the PRC has been plagued by infighting and nonstop controversy, difficulties in managing the agency ethically and efficiently, and flat-out criminal behavior, leading to charges and convictions. New Mexicans deserve better.

In crafting the constitutional amendment reimagining the PRC, a bipartisan working group in the state Senate consulted with a broad range of interest groups who appear before the commission. This vital input underscored the call for change, reflected by the final votes on each floor. (It passed 59-8 in the House and 36-5 in the Senate.) If passed by the voters, New Mexico would join a majority of states that currently have commissions with similar models. The structure has been tested and proven to work well across the country.

Experience and expertise matter. The decisions made by the PRC affect every New Mexican, every day. We strongly encourage you to vote YES in support of changing the Public Regulation Commission from an elected five-member commission to an appointed three-member commission and bringing much-needed reform to this important regulatory authority.

Senate Majority Leader

Peter Wirth (D)

Senate Minority Caucus Chairman Steven P. Neville (R)

Sen. William H. Payne (R)

Use your common sense

Editor:

On Sunday, Sept. 13, I observed a mass gathering in Belen which was advertised as a “Faith over Fear” rally.

What I witnessed was a crowd of about 200 people, with only a few exceptions, not wearing facial coverings or observing social distancing. The gathering included a clear message: do not believe scientists, begin to attend religious services en masse and thereby showing one’s faith in God by flouting personal/public health safety.

I was surprised to see a broad range of Christian clergy supporting this message. Are we to assume these clergy are not concerned with their congregants’ or community’s health? I also noted a number of flags and stickers promoting Trump and the Republican ticket, perhaps indicating the gathering was less about religion and was more political.

The only protections we have at present against this virus are face coverings and social distancing. To ignore or advocate abandoning these safeguards is to show a blatant disregard for the health and safety of oneself and others. To attack or discredit scientific facts is an act of ignorance and not of patriotism.

Americans have met many enemies in the past, and we have come through stronger and more unified. The COVID-19 virus is a formidable enemy, but ignorance is a greater enemy. I ask all people of faith to use our God-given powers of intellect and common sense to rally and fight this threat and not one another.

Herman Lucero

Belen

Renewable energy

Editor:

Recently, there have been letters to the editor extolling the virtues of renewable energy. Maybe someday, way into the future, those virtues will be justified, but not today.

Even the editorial board of the Albuquerque Journal (Aug. 28, 2020) is questioning the reliability of our power grid; “Did New Mexicans just get a glimpse at the future as the state transitions to 100 percent renewable electric power mandated under the Energy Transition Act? The answer is likely ‘yes.’”

In August, PNM requested customers to reduce their energy use by turning up their ACs and delay use of appliances until 9 p.m. because of the risk of rolling blackouts like in California. But hey, New Mexican politicians have historically wanted to be just like California. So bring on the rolling blackouts!

The ETA is Gov. Lujan-Grisham’s pet project, so she can take all the credit when we’re out of power and struggle to pay our electric bills.

California’s climate policies have been the root cause of their blackout devastation. They had to impose rolling blackouts for millions of people because of their failure to maintain sufficient power from natural gas and nuclear plants.

In 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown forced the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Had San Onofre been in operation, there would’ve been less blackouts because the reserve margin would have been significantly higher.

California’s electricity prices rose six times more than the rest of the U.S. from 2011 to 2019 due to its huge expansion of renewables. Even though the cost of solar panels has declined, their unreliability meant huge new costs for storage and transmission.

As the blackouts were occurring, solar panels and farms were turning off. California’s electricity prices will continue to rise if it continues to add more renewables to its grid and goes forward to close down its last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon in 2025.

A quote from the Rio Grande Foundation “As New Mexico’s legislature, governor, and PRC push forward to implement New Mexico’s ‘Green New Deal’ Energy Transition Act, a new report from SaveOnEnergy.com shows that New Mexico electricity users saw a 10.1 percent increase in electric rates over the past year. That’s the 2nd-biggest increase among U.S states and seems inevitably tied to the State’s looming transition to renewables.” That’s huge! Elections have consequences!

Research from Alex Epstein’s Center for Industrial Progress shows tens of millions of Americans live in energy poverty, meaning they experience hardship paying for their basic energy needs. Twenty-five million households say they’ve gone without food and medicine and kept their homes at unsafe temperatures just to pay for energy.

This is a growing problem thanks to wasteful, unreliable solar and wind infrastructure.

The fastest way to decrease energy poverty is to end all favoritism for wasteful, unreliable solar and wind schemes. And above all, reject any proposals to outlaw reliable, affordable fossil fuels and nuclear plants in favor of unreliable renewable energy.

Donna Crawford

Los Lunas


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