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Governor Richardson’s Energy Policy Needs A “Southern Strategy”

It was reported in the Sunday Albuquerque Journal that Governor Richardson, campaigning for President in San Diego, said “we’ve surpassed you here in California.” The Governor declared New Mexico the Nation’s leading clean energy State. This campaign rhetoric is a great opportunity for New Mexico clean energy advocates to pressure the Governor to make the rhetoric reflect reality in the State. No better place to start than Southern New Mexico where the Rural Electric Cooperatives are staunch supporters of Tri State Generation and Transmission of Denver which limits local clean energy to 5% of sales. It will take action by the Legislature to bring Tri State under full regulation by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) and it will take pressure from the Governor to pass the bill. After passing the legislation, the regulation of Tri State will take bold action by the PRC and its Southern New Mexico Commissioner, Sandy Jones. The PRC has already voted to support legislation increasing oversight of Tri State.

Opposition to clean energy legislation in the New Mexico State Legislature often comes from Southern New Mexico State Senators, both Democrat and Republican - from Silver City, Deming, Las Cruces, Jal and Hobbs. The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator John Arthur Smith of Deming, is often the bottle neck for revenue related clean energy bills.

The final frontier for clean energy in Southern New Mexico is the Texas public utility, El Paso Electric (EPE). When the State passed a Renewable Energy Standard the utility challenged the Law in the State Supreme Court. Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) has implemented an energy efficiency program in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. EPE as yet to file an energy efficiency plan. The Governor, the Legislature, the PRC and public activists can work with EPE to help the utility contribute more to clean energy in the State.

The Las Cruces Energy Fair is an indication of increased awareness of energy issues in Southern New Mexico. El Paso Electric was a major sponsor of the Fair. There are Las Cruces legislators who are strong supporters of clean energy. The stage has been set for a Clean Energy Southern Strategy.
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