New Mexico regulators approve utility rate hike with caveat

By The Associated Press

State regulators have agreed to allow New Mexico's largest electric utility to raise rates over the next two years but with the stipulation it cannot recoup the money the utility is spending to upgrade a coal power plant.

 

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State regulators have agreed to allow New Mexico's largest electric utility to raise rates over the next two years but with the stipulation it cannot recoup the money the utility is spending to upgrade a coal power plant.

The state Public Regulation Commission approved the rate increase Wednesday, allowing the Public Service Co. of New Mexico to raise electricity rates by about 8 percent for the average consumer by 2019.

The commission has also barred the utility from recovering nearly $150 million spent on improvements for the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington, describing that spending as "imprudent."

Utility spokesman Pahl Shipley told the Albuquerque Journal that the company is reviewing the commission's order before determining its next action.

"The parties to the settlement agreement have worked together to strike a fair and balanced outcome, with only one party opposing the settlement," Shipley said in an email. "Making significant changes to a settlement that has overwhelming support adds to the uncertain regulatory environment in New Mexico."

The utility had sought out $99.2 million in new revenue, but lowered the requested amount to nearly $37 million last year after reaching a settlement agreement with about a dozen other parties involved in the case.

The utility and the other parties have until next week to accept or reject the commission's ruling. If it's rejected, the case would be sent back to a new round of hearings on the original request.

If the ruling is accepted, the new rates could begin to be phased in on Jan. 1.

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