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December 16, 2020

New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Unanimously Denies Proposed Gas Plant Expansion

Commission finds the proposal in violation of the state’s renewable energy law

Contacts

Miranda Fox, Earthjustice

Santa Fe, NM

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, the state utility regulator, voted 5-0 to deny El Paso Electric’s (EPE) 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.

“This is what clean energy leadership looks like. Once again, New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commissioners have implemented state renewable energy law, protecting clean air and water, and pocketbooks, for all New Mexicans,” said Rick Gilliam, Vote Solar’s Regulatory Director and author of the testimony on rate design and climate risk. “100% renewable energy is a bold vision, and through decisions like today’s New Mexico is taking concrete steps toward that brighter future.”

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. A diverse set of parties, including the New Mexico Attorney General and the City of Las Cruces, agreed that EPE’s proposal to invest in a new gas power plant was not in the public interest.

“The Commission protected New Mexicans from paying for new, expensive fossil-fueled infrastructure. El Paso Electric had ignored clean alternatives in its quest for approval of a gas plant that would enrich its shareholders,” said Sara Gersen, Earthjustice Clean Energy Staff Attorney. “Now, the company can shift its focus to deploying renewable resources that won’t deepen the climate crisis.”

The Hearing Examiner for the application found that EPE “failed to consider New Mexico law” in her recommendation to deny the application issued November 16th. EPE has stated that they will move forward with construction, which has been approved by Texas regulators.

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