As New Mexicans brace for rolling brownouts and struggle to pay increasing energy bills, the governor is raking in the maximum amount in political donations from the state’s largest energy provider.
KOAT‘s Rhiannon Samuel noted last week that incumbent Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham will for the first time as governor “appoint all of the state public regulatory committee members” responsible for approving utility price hikes.
“If they’re donating to a gubernatorial candidate to have influence there, it makes perfect sense why they would want to have a hand in that.”–“More than $2 million donated to gubernatorial candidates in one month,” KOAT, July 15, 2022
Despite big promises about sustainability and lower costs, Lujan Grisham’s 2019 “Energy Transition Act”–New Mexico’s version of the Green New Deal–is off to a rough start. The goal of 40% renewable energy by 2025, 50% renewables by 2030, and 100% by 2045 seem increasingly unlikely. (As of this writing, 13% of PNM’s energy is coming from renewables.)
PNM had warned of rolling brownouts this summer prior to temporarily delaying the closure of the coal-powered San Juan Generating Station. While the closure is now slated for September, supply chain issues have complicated efforts to acquire enough solar and battery storage capabilities to replace the thousands of annual gigawatt hours created by San Juan.
What happens after September is anybody’s guess:
“The ability to fill the gap left by taking more around-the-clock generation offline before renewable sources are ready remains uncertain.”–“Solar Project Delays Create Hurdles for New Mexico Utility,” Associated Press, Feb. 17, 2022
While Lujan Grisham is raking in tens of thousands in donations, her Green New Deal is weakening New Mexico’s energy portfolio at a time when hundreds of thousands of residents are struggling to make ends meet.
According to a HelpAdvisor report earlier this year, New Mexicans have been hit the hardest when it comes to paying rising energy costs.
In total, 491,646 New Mexicans couldn’t pay their energy bill at least once last year, the report found. One in five, 20%, kept their homes at an unsafe temperature to lower their bill – the highest percentage in the U.S. And 30.6%, the second-highest percentage in the U.S., went without food or medicine in order to pay their energy bill, the report found.–“New Mexicans struggling to keep up with rising energy costs,” The Center Square, Mar. 8, 2022
While protecting the environment is in everyone’s best interest, a hasty plan with unrealistic goals will do more harm than good. Under Lujan Grisham’s leadership, PNM is sacrificing the integrity of the power grid for “renewables” that not only cost more, but which may not be reliable enough to keep the lights on.
Categories: 2022 Governor's Race