State regulators could approve coal plant settlement, sending $115M back to New Mexicans

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State regulators could approve coal plant settlement, sending $115M back to New Mexicans

Date: 09/21/2023     Category: News & Media     Author: Source New Mexico     Publication: Meagan Gleason    

Public can catch the meeting online or in person

 The San Juan Generating Station, before it was fully decommissioned in 2022. (Photo courtesy of San Juan Citizens Alliance and EcoFlight / Creative Commons)

Public Regulation Commissioners could approve a total of $115 million in refunds for those who get power from the Public Service Company of New Mexico.

If authorized at the PRC meeting today, this will come in the form of credits on utility bills for New Mexicans over the course of a year.

PNM agreed to pay back this money in a settlement over how the utility handled prices following the full closure of the San Juan Generating Station in 2022.

A year ago, the coal plant completely shut down. Since then, PNM customers have been paying the same rates, despite state officials and environmental advocacy organizations fighting for people to get credits on their utility bills after prices didn’t change.

It’s an issue that’s been ongoing in the New Mexico Supreme Court since June 2022. In August 2023, all parties agreed to a settlement.

If the settlement goes through, PNM will return $115 million to its customers over the span of 12 months. It would appear on utility bills as the “San Juan ETA Settlement Credit.”

PNM spokesperson Ray Sandoval said the utility hasn’t figured out a monthly breakdown of how much the credits would be on each monthly statement. Source NM calculated that between the over 525,000 residents and businesses PNM serves, it could add up on the higher end to roughly $220 in savings annually, or about $18 a month, per customer.

The settlement would also allow PNM to issue up to $360.1 million in Energy Transition Act bonds and enact safeguards from making New Mexicans pay annual interest rates on the bonds if they exceed a certain threshold.

A state judge sent the case back to the PRC on Sept. 14, meaning Public Regulation Commissioners have the authority to approve the settlement or not during Thursday’s meeting. They could also postpone the decision to a later time, which sometimes happens when the regulators are seeking more information.

The case is one of the last items on Thursday’s agenda. PRC meetings are usually a couple of hours long, so the commissioners could hear this matter closer to the afternoon.