PRC Cuts PNM Rate Hike Request, Pot Survey, Update on Campaigns

The PRC slashed PNM’s rate hike request by almost 40%. They heard our voices, but we didn’t get all we wanted. This issue also presents a survey on legalization of pot in NM. It is time!

By a vote of 3-2 the PRC approved PNM’s request to incorporate their purchase agreements for more nuclear and coal, while trimming the amount to be covered by rate payers significantly. Nonetheless, by no measure was this a victory. Yes, they heard our voices. Lynda Lovejoy, Karen Montoya and Sandy Jones all acknowledged hearing from constituents but they also said they didn’t like it, accusing me of “threatening them.”

Damn right I threatened them. I threatened them with encouraging their constituents to exercise the rights of anyone in a democracy: vote for candidates who represent them well.  And Jones, Montoya, Lovejoy, and Lyons did not like being called out for representing the coal and nuclear industries and PNM’s profits, instead of their constituents.

Fortunately, their decision was so flawed New Energy Economy will be appealing to the Supreme Court, a body that has judges who actually follow the law.  The PRC is charged to choose options that protect the environment and that are cost effective. By neither measure was PNMs request responsive to these criteria.  Their request included asking rate payers to pay three times the market rate for nuclear and their request included significant increases in the use of coal and nuclear without ANY data to demonstrate the need for it or justification for the cost paid.  So while Commissioners spoke at length about how difficult the decision was and how they poured over the facts, the only facts presented were from those who were opposing the deal since PNM provided ZERO analysis comparing other more sustainable options. In a future issue, I will present more on this.

potTime to Legalize Pot?  

I wanted to share with you a blog from Progress Now NM. They posted a blog this morning with a survey asking subscribers if they supported a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana. Given the horrid state of our state budget and the immense potential of legalization, Progress Now feels that some may take a more positive view. Just a few benefits:

  • A legalized, regulated and taxed marijuana industry in New Mexico could create 11,400 new jobs and add $412 million in new revenue for our economy

  • Colorado now brings in twice as much tax revenue from marijuana for education and public safety than it does from alcohol.  If we follow that model, that could mean more than $40 million in new revenue for New Mexico (which we need for education, public safety and healthcare, among other things).

  • New Mexico would save at least $33 million in courts, police and corrections costs associated with marijuana prosecutions

  • State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino has sponsored a Constitutional amendment like this for several sessions, but without a grassroots voter-led effort to push it it has never quite gotten far enough.

From an economic and a social justice perspective, legalizing marijuana makes a great deal of sense. Click here to read the blog and take the survey.

NM Statewide Progressive Platform.  A statewide platform is being developed by leadership from Retake the Roundhouse, Southwest Organizing Project-ACTION, Progressive Democrats of America, Progressive Voters of America and other regional progressive hubs. It is in an early draft stage and will soon be posted for comment on an online site via Survey Monkey through which we will seek your input. Once finalized, Retake will seek endorsement from progressive groups throughout the State. The platform will be used to vet future Democratic candidates to determine who we will be advancing to challenge centrist Democrats in 2018 primaries. I will keep you posted.

Progressive Champions Running in Tough ABQ Races. Retake the Roundhouse asks for your help to elect two courageous progressive legislative candidates:  Natalie Figueroa (HD30) and Liz Thompson (HD27).   These are not just Democratics, they will serve as Progressive Champions in the House. We need to begin to build a Progressive Caucus in both chambers and this is a great place to start. For more on these races and how you can help, click here.

Los Cruces for Bernie Morphs into South NM New Progressives and begins campaigning for Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Joanne Ferrary – State House Rep District 37, Rudy Martinez – State House Rep District 39 and other local candidates. For more information and for contact info on how to get involved, click here.

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