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Defending Clean Energy in New Mexico

A solar carport at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The array delivers about 23 megawatt hours of clean electricity annually to the local utility grid.

A solar carport at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The array delivers about 23 megawatt hours of clean electricity annually to the local utility grid.

IIP Photo Archive / CC BY-NC 2.0

What’s at Stake

The vast majority of electricity generated in New Mexico comes from burning fossil fuels, causing significant harm to human health and the environment.

Solar energy, including rooftop solar, plays a critical role in curbing fossil-fuel addiction and building a clean energy economy.

Overview

Location map of New Mexico.
The vast majority of electricity generated in New Mexico comes from burning fossil fuels, causing significant harm to human health and the environment. Solar energy plays a critical role in curbing fossil-fuel addiction and building a clean energy economy.

On behalf of our clients, Earthjustice has engaged in a series of legal actions to advance the rise of clean energy in New Mexico.

In 2021, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, the state utility regulator, voted 5-0 to deny El Paso Electric’s application to expand their Newman Generating Station, which serves customers in the Las Cruces area. The proposed additional turbines would have cost ratepayers $160 million over the expected lifetime of the plant. Vote Solar, represented by Earthjustice, intervened in the case demonstrating that El Paso Electric misrepresented the capacity value of solar and wind alternatives, and that EPE failed to address gas risk, climate risk, and benefits of time-of-use rates.

Meanwhile, utilities around the country have tried to restrict the growth of rooftop solar by implementing unreasonable and discriminatory fees, surcharges and other rate changes.

Decisions by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission will allow rooftop solar to continue to play a critical role in curbing fossil-fuel addiction and building a clean energy economy. Earthjustice, Vote Solar, and other advocates successfully intervened in proceedings, defeating one utility proposal in the Commission’s legal proceedings and achieving a favorable settlement in another case.

  1. In 2015, the El Paso Electric Company was stopped from becoming the first regulated utility in the nation to establish a separate rate class for rooftop solar customers. The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission dismissed an EPE proposal that would have created a different rate class for residential customers with rooftop solar and other types of distributed generation, and then charge them a higher rate than other residential customers. The proposal would have threatened the sustainable growth of distributed solar and other clean energy resources in New Mexico. The commission threw out the proposal because these actions would violate its own rules designed to ensure that rooftop solar customers are treated fairly.
  2. In 2016, the New Mexico utility Southwestern Public Service Company sought a large and unsupported rate hike that would have threatened the sustainable growth of distributed solar and other clean energy resources in Southeastern New Mexico. But, customers of the utility now no longer have to worry about having to pay higher fees for producing their own solar energy. Most solar customers will even see reductions in their total surcharge fees. Earthjustice and Vote Solar, in partnership with New Mexico attorney Jason Marks, fought SPS’s proposal to increase a special charge on customers who produce renewable energy at their own homes, schools, farms and other locations.

Case ID

3024, 3111, 4094

Clients

Vote Solar

Case Updates