NM rate case issues and overview part 2
This is part 2 of REIA-NM’s ongoing NM Rate Case series. Click here for part 1.
Last year’s NM rate case, submitted by the utilities in New Mexico, asked to impose an “access fee” for solar customers. REIA-NM and a number of other organizations, successfully argued against such a traditional solution to the problems arising in and stemming from their traditional business model which has failed to adapt to new technologies The utilities claimed that solar customers should pay their fair share for the electricity they use at night, when the sun isn’t shining. However, this “fee” doesn’t recoup any real expense to the utility.
In New Mexico, solar energy generated by customers makes up less than 1% of total generation. In addition, many studies show that the benefits that solar customers add to the grid outweigh the additional costs any night time generation may cost. It is an attempt to slow down the adoption of solar, a short term, but very painful solution for the industry. REIA knows that solar customers make the capital investment to add solar power to the grid and not the ratepayer. They share their electricity with the grid during sunlight hours and reduce the need for expensive “peaker” plants that mostly rely on diesel fuel. In fact, the peak hours have changed due to solar. Solar is good for grid security, rate payers, and the environment in the long run. Legislative policies and approved regulations that allow utilities an alternate mechanism to earn revenue can solve the current access fee issue.