PRC shouldn’t pick winners and losers

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission was forward thinking when it set up a renewable portfolio standard requiring utilities to get a certain percentage of energy from green sources.

It was responsible when it decided, as Commissioner Theresa Becenti-Aguilar explains, “to balance the renewable portfolio standard with the best interests of consumers.”

And it was fair when it tackled utilities’ hidden costs, expanding what can be used to calculate renewable price tags to add what are mandatory costs of doing business — ensuring backup generation and transmission systems, as well as lost revenue from storing fossil fuels, so there will be power at times when renewables aren’t available.

Because to date there are always times — dark, cold, windless times — when renewables aren’t available.

However, the PRC made a mistake when it started picking winners and losers by deciding to mandate diversified clean-energy portfolios, with at least 30 percent wind, 20 percent solar and 5 percent “other,” such as geothermal.

And it started a bookkeeping fiction when it decided utilities could double and even triple credits earned for each kilowatt hour of solar or “other” renewables produced.

The state Attorney General’s Office and New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers have asked the PRC to eliminate diversity requirements, using the rationale that they force utilities to acquire more expensive resources like solar to meet artificial quotas.

They’re right.

Rather than favor solar over wind — did Solyndra teach us nothing? — the PRC should adhere to its mandate that there will be green energy in New Mexico.

And it should then step back and let the market determine what works and what doesn’t, and what’s cost-effective and cost-prohibitive.

— Albuquerque Journal

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