Tuesday News Roundup: PRC Considers Renewable Energy Proposal

Sep 10, 2013

PRC Considers Renewable Energy Proposal - Associated Press

New Mexico regulators are considering changes to a rule that governs how much utilities must invest in renewable energy.

The Public Regulation Commission is holding a public hearing Tuesday to gather comment on the proposal backed by the commission's staff and the attorney general's office.

Advocates of the New Mexico Renewable Energy Act say some of the changes would discourage renewable energy development in the state. Supporters of the changes say customers could end up facing unreasonable electric rates if the rule isn't changed.

Under the rule, regulators capped the amount investor-owned utilities could spend on adding renewable energy to their portfolios. However, the way the costs are defined has prompted debate.

The mix of renewable resources required by the state is also a target of the proposed changes.

NM rate increase OK'd for Blue Cross Blue Shield - Associated Press

New Mexico's insurance regulator has approved a rate increase of at least 9 percent for about 26,000 customers of Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The Office of Superintendent of Insurance said Monday there will be increases of 9.2 percent or 10.4 percent starting in December for the company's policyholders.

The regulatory agency attributed about 5 percent to 6 percent of the increase to rising medical costs and the remainder to fees imposed on insurers by a federal health care overhaul law.

Insurance Superintendent John Franchini said 80 percent of the premiums collected by Blue Cross must be spent on medical expenses.

Franchini encouraged New Mexicans who don't obtain health insurance through their employer to explore buying coverage through the state's health insurance exchange, will is to start accepting applications next month.

Duncan Visits West Texas, Southern New Mexico - Associated Press

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan continues a four-state back-to-school bus tour with a visit to West Texas and southern New Mexico to discuss issues that schools face.

In El Paso, Texas, Duncan visits a community college that offers classes for high school students. The gesture is to highlight the importance of high schools and colleges working together.

In the afternoon, he'll travel to the border village of Columbus, N.M., to talk about the challenges of educating diverse populations.

Other Education Department officials will visit different venues in El Paso and Las Cruces, N.M., to discuss early education for children with disabilities and participate in panel discussions on autism, bilingual education and leadership.

Duncan also will make stops this week in Texas, Arizona and California.

2 New Mexico Museums Receive Federal Grants - Associated Press

New Mexico's Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has been awarded a federal grant of nearly $142,000 for preservation of artifacts in its collection.

The grant was part of $25 million awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for 186 museum projects nationwide.

The money is to help the museum treat pottery and other ceramic vessels for transfer to the newly completed state Center for New Mexico Archaeology.

The museum in Santa Fe is administered by the Department of Cultural Affairs.

The University of New Mexico's Harwood Museum of Art in Taos was awarded a $150,000 grant from the federal agency to establish a digital photography studio, photograph its collection and publish an online catalog.

The museums must match the federal grants with other sources of money.