- New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) has joined a coalition of solar advocates that want the state Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to dismiss a proposed grid "access fee" for rooftop solar customers proposed by the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM).
- PNM proposed a $6-per-kilowatt monthly charge on solar owners as part of its latest rate case. It also requested an approximately 12% percent rate increase. Typical home solar system size in New Mexico ranges from 3.5 kW, which would incur a $21 monthly fee, to 6 kW, which would incur a $36 fee.
- The Attorney General also asked the PRC to do a value of solar study to assess the actual costs and benefits to New Mexico’s grid from distributed PV.
Value of solar studies aim to determine if utility customers with rooftop solar systems impose costs on consumers without them by paying less to the power company when their panels are generating electricity. Solar advocates say the benefits of solar in lowered system use has a value larger than their reduced system maintenance fees. They also argue PNM’s access fee is a ploy to recover lost revenues due to other factors.
The rate increase is to recover costs for previous and planned power plant and grid infrastructure investments between 2012 and 2016, to cover revenues lost to decreased demand associated with the economic recession, and with increased customer use of energy efficiency and distributed renewables.
PNM’s 2014 adjusted net earnings fell to $86.8 million from 2013’s $87.6 million, in part due to a reported decline in load.
U.S. utilities are coping with decreased revenues due to decreased electricity sales. The Energy Information Administration predicts a 0.9% yearly electricity demand growth rate through 2040, down from a projected 1.2% to 1.5% growth rate preceding the financial crisis and recession.