January 3, 2020 – Gene Grant and NMiF’s all-journalist Line panel keep reeling off discussions about 2019’s top stories. The year’s third most talked-about story is the passage of the Energy Transition Act. Designed to save PNM stockholders from bearing the cost of shutting down the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station, the law passes the costs on to ratepayers. But it also forces PNM into a 100 percent renewable energy generation in the next 25 years. Meanwhile, the Public Regulation Commission is still at odds with the Legislature over the power play, and the Supreme Court will soon weigh in on the question of whether the PRC can still regulate the power plant’s shutdown. The year’s second biggest story could easily have been the first. After a judge ordered New Mexico to come up with a sufficient way to fund education for lower income students, Native, English language learners and others, lawmakers scrambled to inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the state’s K-12 school budget. Despite increasing teacher pay and changing how schools consider educating diverse populations, plaintiffs in the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit say New Mexico needs to do far more.
Line Panelists: Gwyneth Doland, adjunct professor, UNM Communication & Journalism Dept.
Andy Lyman, reporter, New Mexico Political Report
Jessica Onsurez, news director, Carlsbad Current Argus
Steve Terrell, retired reporter, Santa Fe New Mexican
November 15, 2019 – The Energy Transition Act signed into law this year by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham requires all local utilities to get half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That’s prompting a shakeup among rural electric cooperatives, which serve more than 200,000 people in New Mexico, and with the wholesale supplier where cooperatives buy their power. Kit Carson Electric Cooperative chose to pay a hefty exit fee to get out of its agreement with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association in 2016. That has encouraged other rural co-ops in Colorado to consider that option. Breaking away from Tri-State gives them more freedom to buy more renewable energy, which could provide cleaner, lower-cost electricity for their customers.
Also in the mix is a change in how Tri-State will be regulated. The wholesale provider will now be under federal regulation since it added its first non-cooperative member this year. That eliminates much of the oversight of this provider by state regulators, who otherwise might intervene if there is a push to raise rates on consumers. Albuquerque Journal reporter Kevin Robinson-Avila talks with NMIF correspondent Megan Kamerick about what this change could mean for New Mexicans.
Guest: Kevin Robinson-Avila, Albuquerque Journal business reporter