This post has been updated to reflect new information from the Santa Fe New Mexican.
- A poll commissioned by Public Service Company of New Mexico finds little support for the city of Santa Fe's proposal to take over its distribution network and form a municipal utility, the New Mexican reports.
- According to the survey, a large proportion of residents may not be aware of the city's proposals and many who are expressed concern over the potential for higher rates.
- Santa Fe Mayor Mayor Javier Gonzales (D) questioned the survey's source and content, saying the city's plans would not be swayed by a utility-backed poll.
The biggest surprise in PNM's survey may not be low support for Santa Fe's municipalization plans — that's about what you would expect from a utility-backed poll. But according to PNM, swaths of the city's citizens are not even aware of Santa Fe's proposal.
Though the Santa Fe New Mexican did not relay the survey's specific findings, the newspaper reports almost half of respondents would prefer Santa Fe to work with the utility in meeting environmental goals. The city's mayor, however, told the newspaper that the survey appeared designed to lead to specific answers.
“I can understand why people would answer the way they did when PNM basically said that there would be a rate increase for municipalization,” Gonzales said.
Santa Fe municipalization plans began to pick up steam two years ago, when a feasibility assessment completed by MSA Capital Partners found Santa Fe Public Power could get off the ground for $155 million, a figure which included high-end estimates for replacing or acquiring PNM’s distribution network. Proponents of the city's muni plans want cleaner power, while the utility has pointed to its plan to boost renewables and slash coal use by almost a third.
PNM has warned the city and ratepayers that it is easy to underestimate the costs of maintaining reliable power, while also noting that by the end of this year the utility will have spent almost $300 million on solar energy and will source its power from enough renewable resources to power 150,000 homes.
UPDATE: The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the poll has now been placed online. It can be accessed, along with the newspaper's analysis, on the New Mexican website.