New Mexico Solar Energy Association

Email Discussion History

  • 10 Feb 2015 2:26 PM
    Message # 3222890

    This discussion started via email.  Here's a summary (oldest on top):

    On 12/12/2014, Gary Vaughn wrote:

    PNM has played its hand, more or less as we expected.
    The battle is on.

    From: Miller, Amy []
    Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2014 4:53 PM
    Subject: PNM Files Price Increase Request for Jan. 1, 2016
    Good afternoon, I wanted to let you know that PNM filed a rate case at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission today.  We understand that no one likes paying more for anything, and electricity is no different. Because we value your business, we want to inform you about a proposed change that impacts you.

    PNM has filed a request with the N.M. Public Regulation Commission to increase electricity rates beginning Jan.1, 2016. This request is about ensuring you continue to receive reliable service and move towards a cleaner electric supply. Approximately 92 percent of the request is to recover $585 million in system improvements incurred to serve our customers from 2010 through 2016. To recover those investments we are proposing an overall retail rate increase of 12 percent. The net impact, however, will be 7.7 percent as some offsetting changes will occur at the same time. The average homeowner will see a price increase of about $9.75 per month, or 32 cents per day.
    We take price increases seriously and have kept expenses down. PNM’s operating and maintenance costs have only increased 0.2 percent a year since 2010, well below the inflation rate. These investments have improved and maintained the electric system -- provided strong reliability, and increased the use of cleaner resources, including natural gas, solar and wind. These investments include:

    • Four new solar centers online by 2016 ($79 million) capable of powering 16,200 average homes;
    • La Luz Natural Gas Plant online 2016 ($56 million), to serve customers when demand is highest, to support renewable energy growth and ensure reliable power under a variety of grid conditions;
    • Emission control equipment at San Juan Generating Station to comply with federal haze regulations (Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction equipment to reduce NOx emissions, $81 million);
    • Critical resources for the future: purchasing Rio Bravo Generating Station Natural Gas Plant ($38 million) and purchasing some of the leased assets at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Unit 2 ($163 million); and

    Investments to keep our electric system reliable, including a $30 million investment at PNM’s Rio Puerco Switching Station, a critical hub in our transmission system, $8 million for substation hardening to increase security, and modernizing our distribution system operations center. 
    As part of this request the company is also proposing changes to our electric rate pricing structure to better align rates with how customers use our system. Proposed changes to the electric rate pricing structure are:

    • A Revenue Balancing Account pilot program, also known as decoupling, designed to support recovery of fixed costs that are critical to service reliability, similar to fuel adjustments that are regularly recovered;
    • The proposed changes to rate structure include an economic development tariff to support state and local efforts to retain and attract companies that provide economic based jobs.
    • A distributed generation interconnection fee, applied only to new rooftop solar customers after Jan. 1, 2016, ensure that these customers pay their use of the system.

    We remain committed to providing you with affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible electricity. We also recognize that any price increase will have an impact on our customers.To learn about energy-saving and assistance programs or how PNM is making our power supply cleaner and more reliable and for more information about why PNM is requesting a price increase, visit  I have also attached a fact sheet with further details on the increase.  Feel free to contact me with any questions.

    On 12/12/2014, Gayle Simmons wrote:
    Hi Gary,
    Thanks for this.  What strikes me right away is that coal and nuclear are still in the picture with heavy investments in each.  What I would like to know (if possible) is what is the cost/kwh of their investment in solar and wind with natural gas and battery back-up (That's how I think because of all my small PV experience.).  What are their plans for replacing all of the natural gas with new technology and what is the cost of that investment (dreaming, I know)?
    Also, am I seeing that this $6/kW of roof top solar capacity is actually about 4 cents/kWh produced?  Did I calculate that correctly?
    I have been invited to their phone conference this afternoon.  Are you going to attend?

    12/14/2014, Allan Sindelar wrote:
    Here's a good piece refuting the logic of charges for grid-connected PV.

    On 12/16/2015, Gary Vaughn wrote:
    I just downloaded the 2014 PNM Rate Case Testimony & Exhibit documents.
    You’ll be delighted to know that the Testimony Docs add up to 2324 pages.
    The Exhibit docs only total 8509 pages (no, that’s not a typo).
    Please get in touch with me as soon as you finish reading this stuff.

    On 12/16/2014, Gary Vaughn wrote:
    The 2014 PNM Rate Case documents that were just filed with the PRC are now available on the PNM website at

    PNM is proposing a “DG Interconnection Fee” similar to what Arizona Public Service Co proposed last year.  At $6.00 per KW of installed PV capacity, the surcharge is quite high (as we expected).  There are also proposed changes to the rules about “banking” unused net-metered KWHs (guess who loses & who wins).
    If these proposals are approved by the PRC, customer owned PV installs in PNM-landia will plummet.
    The devil is in the details, and the details are typically hidden under a deluge of legalese & PNM-speak.  It’s not easy reading (intentionally so).  But if we’re to come up with effective & convincing counter-arguments, we need to understand what exactly they’re proposing, and how they’re justifying these proposals.

    On 1/2/2015, Gayle Simmons wrote:
    Hi Gary and all,
    I guess I am really confused about what the PRC does.  In 2007, Craig and I attended a workshop at Solar Fiesta.  A PNM engineer was giving a presentation on customer owned PV installations.  He said that PNM was excited about these PV systems because they stabilized the line, reduced
    CO2 emissions and conserved water. We have always been solar enthusiast so we jumped on the opportunity to make PV part of our electrical business.  Now we are being told that PV systems are causing PNM problems because they are losing fixed costs that cause other ratepayers to pay more and that carbon pollution and water conservation are of no value to them.
    If the PRC can't make decisions on what resources to use to produce electricity for the good of all ratepayers; and if they can't use  the benefits of solar in regard to line stability and cleanliness of the resource used for reducing the cost of electricity, what arguments can ordinary citizens use when contacting their PRC rep?

    On 1/6/2015, David Barbour wrote:
    You may find these materials useful.  They are from Thomas Beach and maintain that in AZ and CA net metering provides more benefits than it costs.

    On 1/6/2015, Gary Vaughn wrote:
    Hey All,
    Here's an article about the 2014 PNM Rate Case (PNM’s War on New Mexicans) that I think is worth your time to review.
    It will show up in the Jan/Feb SunPaper.
    Feel free to forward it to others who may be interested and/or to revise & borrow from it for your own articles.

    On 1/7/2015, Taiyoko Sadewic wrote:
    There is one more important point to make about PNM’s Grab.  They say the existing systems are grandfathered and not affected by the fee.  In the details it states that as soon as the existing system REC contracts expire then those systems will revert to the new monthly true-up program.  For systems installed in 2006 REC contracts will expire in 2019, three years after PNM rate takes effect.
    Good job.

    On 1/23/2015, Gary Vaughn wrote:
    Hey All,
    The email below & its attached “Fact Sheet” kicked off PNM’s PR campaign in support of their 2014 Rate Case proposal.
    These PNM “talking points” will be repeated over & over in the coming months in presentations all over the state.
    My email to follow will give you some ammunition to use in countering this PNM PR barrage.
    Those of you who aren’t PNM customers may think this Rate Case doesn’t apply to you, but if PNM is successful in getting the PRC to approve these various surcharges and PV system penalties, you can be sure that all other utilities in NM will soon impose similar charges.

     From: Miller, Amy []
    Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2014 4:53 PM
    Subject: PNM Files Price Increase Request for Jan. 1, 2016

    On 1/24/2015, Stephanie Dzur wrote:
    The SunPaper suggested using humor, skits, media to get the word out about PNM’s ludicrous rate hike on solar.  So I wrote this parody called “Might as Well Pay Taxes on the Sun.”  Now if there were somebody who could actually sing, and someone who could make a video to upload this to YOUTUBE have them contact me and let’s put something together! I’m a horrible singer but you get the point. PLEASE NOTE THE RECORDING BELOW.  If you can’t play the attached .mp3 then let me know and I’ll try to send it again.
    Here is the original song by Smash Mouth if you are not familiar with the song: (youtube vide)

    Here is my parody:
    So don't delay act now the money’s running out
    Allow if they’re gonna thrive, six to eight grand can you slide?
    And if you follow then maybe by tomorrow
    But if PNM ain’t shunned you might as well pay taxes on the sun
    You might as well pay taxes on the sun
    You might as well pay taxes on the sun
    You might as well pay taxes on the sun
    You might as well pay taxes on the sun

    On 1/29/2015, Taiyoko Sadewic wrote:
    I received a call from Jody Karp regarding my email (below).  The  letter we were sent is not correct.  A revised letter will be sent out.  Existing customers will be affected by the rate case.

    From: Taiyoko
    Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2015 12:10 PM
    Subject: question regarding Ron Darnells' letter dated January 20, 2015
    Hi PNM,
    It states that ”PNM’s plan would not impact you,…..”.  It later states that we will phase out the banking option of renewable energy credits.   The letter is not clear about how this impacts me.
    This is very confusing because in Stella’s submitted testimony it makes clear that this plan will impact me.  Please clarify this. I will distribute your response to our customers as well.
    No. PNM does not propose to eliminate the banking option for existing DG customers until the existing customer's Renewable Energy Ce1tificate ("REC") purchase agreement expires. Upon expiration of the existing customer's REC purchase agreement, the customer will be subject to a new REC purchase agreement that does not permit banking of excess energy produced by the customer's DG system. PNM also proposes to eliminate the banking option for those customers who do not have installed systems or completed applications by December 31, 2015.”

    On 2/2/2015 Gary Vaughn wrote:
    Not even PNM can cancel or modify signed contracts, so RRPS’ existing deals should be unchanged.  But we aren’t attorneys, and there’s a lot of room for “fine print” in that massive PNM rate case document.
    Note that these are PNM’s proposed new rules.  The PRC won’t swallow the whole can of worms, but that’s about all we can bet on.
    The 2011 Rate Case dragged on thru the middle of 2012, so the changes that were part of that case that were supposed to go into effect in Jan 2012 were delayed until after the rate case was finally decided.  It’s highly likely that the deadline for whatever new rules are approved will slip past Jan 1 2016.
    PNM has already “assured” its residential customers that their existing deals would not change.  Of course that’s not really true.

    1)      A PV customer’s contract doesn’t affect electricity rates, or rate riders, or increases in fixed fees.  Existing PV customers will see all of those PNM bill increases, and several of those increases will mean that their bill will go up even if they don’t change how many kWhs they use or generate.  That means that a PV customer who is financially “net-zero” now, won’t be financially net-zero after the new rules take effect.  Everyone will pay PNM more.

    2)      When their existing PNM PV contracts expire, the new contracts will impose the new rules.  In the long term, existing PV system owners will be forced to pay PNM thru the nose.

    3)      When an existing PNM residential PV customer sells their home, the contract doesn’t transfer.  That means that the new owner will immediately face all the proposed extra fees & changes to net metering & REC rules.  That means that the existing customer’s PV system will be worth much less than it was worth under the old contract.  That means that this PNM plan will actually reduce the market value of the home.  Pretty neat trick, que no?

    When & if PNM’s proposed new rules take effect, you can kiss new PPAs goodbye.  The REC payment changes are bad enough, but the net-metering changes are even worse – RRPS won’t be able to bank summertime production & apply it against winter time bills, and summertime overproduction RECs will go to PNM for free.  Of course the DG charge per installed kW of PV capacity will cancel savings for RRPS too.  The proposed DG charge varies with rate class as does the proposed rate increase.  I don’t know what rate class RRPS belongs to, but that should be easy enough for you to find out.
    For a new school system that’s installed before the proposed deadline, PNM can make whatever deal it wants.  They have no obligation to approve any new school PV systems.
    Getting PNM Resources to switch strategies & offer their own PPA’s seems “unlikely” to say the least.  That would undercut PNM’s proposal & arguments.  The Arizona equivalent of our PRC just approved a measure that would allow APS to get into the PV system installation business in direct competition with local installers.  That should be a wonderful state-imposed “stimulus” supporting Arizona’s solar small business community, don’t you think?  A few years ago, PNM actually proposed that PNM “take over” all PV installation work in its territory. They even offered the possibility of subcontracting some of that work to local PV installation companies.  Needless to say, that PNM proposal didn’t fly.

    On 2/2/2015, Taiyoko Sadewic wrote:
    Just to clarify, if you entered into a REC contract prior to 2010, the REC contract was non-transferable. That means if you sell your house the new home owner gets a REC at the new price.  Starting in 2010, the REC contract is transferable.
    Get more appsAction Items

    On 2/3/2015, Karlis Viceps wrote:
    I liked Bill Brown's comment to our Taos solar activists below...  you may have seen already, but wanted to make sure!

    All -- For your reference, I attach a letter PNM is sending to its customers in an attempt to justify its proposed fees for those who choose to install residential solar systems. 
    PNM's generation capacity as of 2013 (from the latest Annual Report available on its web site, page attached) was 2,572 megawatts (MW).  
    This means PNM's claim of "...a critical milestone..." of 107 MW of utility-scale solar installations in New Mexico in 2015 amounts to a very feeble 4.2 percent of its total generation capacity.
    Further, the 38 megawatts of residential solar referred to in the letter corresponds to an even more feeble 1.5 percent of PNM's generation capacity.
    This means 98.5 percent of PNM's generation, transmission, and distribution system relies on and is affected by infrastructure other than residential solar installations. 
    Ask yourself, based on these figures, who should be paying for PNM's infrastructure.


    Last modified: 10 Feb 2015 3:29 PM | Anonymous
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