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New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Changes Renewable Energy Regulations

On November 20, 2013, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, by a 3-2 vote, made significant changes to the way in which renewable energy standards are regulated. Consistent with the Renewable Energy Act, NMSA 1978, Section 62-16-1 et seq., the Commission retained the requirement that the renewable portfolio standard shall consist of no less than 15% for each plan year from 2015 through 2019 of the utility’s plan year total retail energy sales and no less than 20% for the plan year 2020 and thereafter of the utility’s plan year total retail energy sales. While the statute does not define what the makeup of the diversity requirements are, under the Commission's rules codified at 17.9.572 NMAC (New Mexico Administrative Code), a fully diversified renewable energy portfolio consists of no less than 30% of the renewable portfolio standard requirement to be met using wind energy, no less than 20% to be met using solar energy, and no less than 5% to be met using one or more of the other renewable technologies. Other renewable technologies include geothermal, fuel cells that are not fossil fueled, and biomass resources such as agricultural or animal waste, small diameter timber, landfill gas and other similar vegetation based resources. Renewable technologies do not include nuclear energy.

The Commission made two major significant changes when looking at a company’s portfolio. First, the Commission determined that utilities would now receive double the credit for every kilowatt-hour of solar power that is produced and triple credit for other (non-fossil fueled) alternative energies, such as geothermal or biomass. Changing the calculation should make it easier for companies to meet the diversity percentages, but critics contend that it will decrease the actual amount of alternative energy resources that are actually developed. The second major change made by the Commission expanded the factors used to calculate the cost of renewables. Utilities will now be required to include both the savings and the costs caused by changes to the entire system when establishing a new renewable energy generation facility. This will include existing generation, operation and maintenance expenses and costs of backup energy systems which might be needed when wind or solar facilities are not producing electricity. This should provide a more accurate calculation of the full costs associated with renewable energy projects.

A detailed summary of comments and testimony and the Commission's order may be found under Case No. 13-00152-UT, In the Matter of Amending Rule 17.9.572 NMAC, Renewable Energy for electric Utilities which can be found here under "Case Lookup Edocket".

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Jeffrey Albright, Telecommunications Attorney, Lewis Roca Rothgerber, Law Firm
Partner

Mr. Albright is a partner whose practice focuses on telecommunications, water/electric utility law, water rights, and intellectual property.

Mr. Albright helps most of the national wireless providers, including Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Cricket and Virgin Mobile, with regulatory, cell tower siting and related issues. He assists regional carriers such as Cellular One and Plateau Telecommunications with similar proceedings. He has participated in hundreds of cases before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission in rulemaking, regulatory and contested proceedings in support of his...

505-764-5435
Thomas H. Campbell, Energy, Telecommunications, Attorney, Lewis & Roca Law firm
Partner

Mr. Campbell's practice is concentrated in the areas of regulatory and administrative law, particularly energy, telecommunications, water and utility regulation. Mr. Campbell represents energy companies in regulatory and contractual matters, including siting and building power plants and transmission lines, resource planning, renewable energy development, EPC contracts, transmission contracts, financings, rate applications and the purchase and sale of energy facilities. For instance, he represented an energy company in a multi-faceted transaction in which the company purchased the assets of another energy company and received regulatory approval for rate increases and loans to finance the transaction. He has also represented solar and wind energy companies in regulatory contract matters.

602-262-5723
Thomas Dougherty, Utility, Energy, Attorney, Lewis Roca Rothgerber, law firm
Partner

Mr. Dougherty represents a broad range of commercial, utility, energy, government, and private clients in general civil ‎and real property litigation, and regulatory matters. He has extensive experience in electrical utility, clean energy, ‎and infrastructure projects as well as eminent domain, land use, and permitting proceedings. As an attorney and an ‎engineer, Mr. Dougherty brings a unique perspective and understanding to the technical, design, and practical implementation ‎aspects of client projects.

303-628-9524