This appeared as a guest column in the Albuquerque Journal | By Nate Duckett / Mayor, City of Farmington, and Kim Carpenter / County Executive Officer, San Juan County, Saturday, October 6th, 2018
We are responding to PNM executive Ron Darnell’s “for the children”-themed op-ed (Sept. 14 Journal). We believe PNM is using this angle to misguide the public on a number of issues surrounding its decision to close the San Juan Generating Station 30 years early.
As fathers and community leaders we care deeply for our youth and are gravely concerned about the impact PNM’s closure of the San Juan Generating Station will have on the well-being, education and future opportunities of our state’s children. Our state already struggles with one of the highest rates of childhood poverty in the country. We take it personally that PNM is willing to so cavalierly turn a blind eye to the real impact its plans will have on our children.
PNM has already publicly stated its plan to close the San Juan Generating Station will increase electric rates. Skyrocketing electric rates in California have already been created by actions like those proposed by PNM. Increased electric rates disproportionately impact those on fixed or low incomes.
PNM’s plans, as advanced by Darnell, will cost all of us, especially our children, in the state of New Mexico plenty in the form of fewer jobs, higher electric rates, reduced tax revenues for schools and diminished ability of parents to support their families. Furthermore, this closure will no doubt lead to further migration of our working class to states that have more robust job opportunities and diversified economies.
PNM has admitted publicly there will be statewide and regional impacts caused by its decision to close the San Juan Generating Station. PNM has also admitted in a proceeding before the Public Regulation Commission that delaying the closure will decrease costs to customers and mitigate impacts. If PNM cares so much about our state’s children, please ask yourself why it isn’t interested in working to create a more workable and prudent transition plan that mitigates these impacts?
In 2015, PNM initiated its plan to close two units of the San Juan Generating Station. PNM asserted that in order to keep the remaining two units open decades longer, extremely expensive pollution control equipment was needed. In reliance on PNM’s stated commitment to continue operations, over $37 million in bonds benefitting schools in our area were issued.
In 2017, after installing this equipment and using assumptions that have been aggressively challenged and largely discredited, the company stated its intention to close the remaining two units of San Juan Generating Station.
Why the sudden change in strategy by PNM? We believe this decision is profit-driven:
• Even though PNM has volunteered to close the plant prematurely, it wants customers to pay PNM shareholders for shutting down a completely viable resource.
• PNM also wants customers to pay for brand-new replacement generation resources, which guarantees dramatic increased profit to PNM and its shareholders.
• PNM wants the state Legislature to expand the amount of renewable energy it uses to 50 percent. This creates a legislative mandate to overbuild resources, which further increases profit to PNM and its shareholders at the expense of ratepayers.
PNM is advocating that the California approach be adopted by New Mexico public officials. Under California’s approach, electric rates have skyrocketed and utility profits have soared. If New Mexico goes along with PNM’s plan, rates in New Mexico will also skyrocket.
Higher electric bills hurt poor families the most. However, higher electric rates do support increased executive bonuses and dividends to mostly wealthy, out-of-state shareholders.
Does New Mexico really want to go along with PNM’s plan to increase electric rates? We need economic growth and to diversify our economy.
With PNM’s plan, higher electric rates will give businesses fleeing California’s disastrous business climate another reason to keep driving straight through New Mexico on Interstate 40 to Texas. Meanwhile, huge numbers of New Mexicans will be forced to pay unnecessarily higher electric bills, impacting government, business, families and yes, our children.
By ROBERT BRYCE
September 15, 2018 6:30 AM
Hugely expensive green mandates will hit poor Californians the hardest.
In April, civil-rights groups sued to stop some of California’s policies designed to address climate change. Then on Monday, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 100, which requires the state’s utilities to obtain all their electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. Before signing the bill, Brown said the legislation was “sending a message to California and to the world that we’re going to meet the Paris agreement.” In fact, it will only increase the hardships that California’s climate policy imposes on the poor, as detailed in the lawsuit.
High electricity prices should be a concern for California policymakers, since electric rates in the state are already 60 percent higher than those in the rest of the country. According to a recent study by the Berkeley-based think tank Environmental Progress, between 2011 and 2017 California’s electricity rates rose more than five times as fast as those in the rest of the U.S. SB 100 will mean even higher electricity prices for Californians.
In addition to cost, the all-renewable push set forth in SB 100 faces huge challenges with regard to energy storage. Relying solely on renewables will require a battery system large enough to handle massive seasonal fluctuations in wind and solar output. (Wind-energy and solar-energy production in California is roughly three times as great during the summer months as it is in the winter.) According to the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based energy-policy think tank, for California to get 80 percent of its electricity from renewables would require about 9.6 terawatt-hours of storage. This would require about 500 million Tesla Powerwalls, or roughly 15 Powerwalls for every resident. A full 100 percent–renewable electricity mandate would require some 36.3 terawatt-hours of storage, or about 60 Powerwalls for every resident of California.
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By ROBERT BRYCE
August 3, 2015 8:00 AM
For the state’s elites, fighting climate change comes first — no matter the cost.
In a recent column in the Orange County Register, demographer Joel Kotkin wrote, “California is a great state in which to be rich,” but he added that affluence in California “co-exists alongside unconscionable poverty.” He pointed out that in the Golden State, the poverty rate for Latinos is 33.7 percent and for African Americans, 30 percent. Both those percentages are well above national averages.
Kotkin’s column, which carried the headline “Putting climate change ahead of constituents,” excoriates the energy policies being promoted by California’s liberal politicians, policies that he calls “environmental puritanism.” Kotkin (whom I am proud to call a friend) has it exactly right. California may be one of America’s most liberal states, but its energy policies are regressive, and the state’s headlong rush toward lower carbon-dioxide emissions and greater use of renewables will only make that regressivity worse.
Liberal Democrats across the country frequently talk about the plight of Latinos and African Americans, and the need to increase take-home pay for the poor and the middle class, but their energy policies are hurting those very same people. No state provides a better example of that than California. And no policy provides a better example of regressive energy taxation than California’s renewable-energy mandate.
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Farmington Daily Time, Matthew Kandrach, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy Published 4:43 a.m. MT July 25, 2018
There is growing alarm over the loss of America’s baseload sources of electricity. Coal and nuclear power plants are being pushed off the grid by a three-headed monster of heavily-subsidized renewable energy, the legacy effects of overzealous regulation, and a glut of natural gas.
Since 2010, more than 600 coal-fired generating units in 43 states have retired or announced plans to retire. Nearly 70 Gigawatts of coal capacity (enough to power 50 million homes) has already been retired, and half of the nation’s commercial nuclear fleet is facing financial pressure.
While wholesale electricity costs have actually fallen in some regions of the country over the past few years, it appears we’re reaching a tipping point where a further loss of coal and nuclear capacity could impose a huge financial burden on consumers.
A new case study by Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) examined the potential cost of early retirement for three coal plants operating in the nation’s largest electricity market.
The study found that the cost of retiring these three plants would be 15 times higher than providing support to keep them operating. The costs from premature retirement would exceed $2 billion per year.
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