KUNM

Electric Use Down, Rates May Climb

Sep 2, 2014

 

With customers using less power, PNM wants to increase their rates.
Credit this lucid moment via flickr

New Mexico's largest electric utility wants another rate increase.  Public Service Company of New Mexico's earning are down as customers conserve more.

Households are cutting down on energy use - 5 percent since the beginning of 2014 according to the Albuquerque Journal - by doing everything from installing solar panels to using curlicue compact fluorescent light bulbs.

PNM says they want the Public Regulation Commission to approve a rate hike so that they have the cash they need to maintain their infrastructure.

But Chuck Noble, an attorney at the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, says it comes down to a shift in the economics of the industry.  He says the cost to produce electricity doesn't necessarily go down as usage drops and that industry experts are aware of the conflict that creates.

"They've been sounding the warning signals to the utilities for some time now, that something is wrong here and that there's a problem in the industry that's got to be addressed," Noble said. "I don't think anybody really has a handle yet on how to address that."

PNM's request for a rate hike will be presented to the Public Regulation Commission in December.  The last hike was 9 percent in 2011.