Editorial: PRC should give gas project full attention

On a frigid Feb. 3, 2011, more than 28,000 New Mexico Gas Co. customers lost natural gas service, plunging them into a deep freeze.

That was mainly because rolling blackouts in Texas reduced the supply of natural gas that the company had ordered to meet winter demand. And that occurred during a period when some of the coldest weather in decades gripped the state.

So the company had to cut off service in several areas to keep the entire system from going down.

Lots of blame was passed around, and the company vowed to be better prepared.

Now, a year and seven months later, the company will seek approval from the Public Regulation Commission to build a $35 million liquefied natural gas storage facility in Rio Rancho just northwest of the Double Eagle II airport. It would be near an existing transmission line.

Nothing comes free, and some increase in rates is to be expected for that size of a project. The company is still working on how much it could impact customers' pocketbooks.

Rio Rancho city councilors have approved a zone change, franchise fee agreement and resolution of support that allows the company to seek PRC approval for the project spawned by the "perfect storm" of cascading factors.

It could take up to 15 months for the PRC review. If approved, the facility could be operational by 2015.

The PRC should give the project its full attention and due diligence. This New Mexico Gas Co. project is addressing issues of supply and transmission to make sure New Mexicans aren't left out in the cold when a future deep freeze descends upon the state.

— Albuquerque Journal

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