Energy Transition Act Exposed: Guest Blog from Mariel Nanasi

The ETA exposed, and we provide our usual reprise of last week’s posts that focused on the need for a shift in culture, the need for direct action, and Retake resources to increase the effectiveness of your advocacy.

On Tuesday, we’ll focus on Thanksgiving, how to manage those potentially difficult conversations, not by avoiding them but by framing them in terms that might generate thoughtful discussion. We can’t avoid these conversations any longer. Each mind shift creates another voice calling for the necessary evolution in consciousness, priorities, policies, and politics to allow our human experiment to continue.

Mariel Nanasi: Speaking Truth To Power

Many people are confused by the dueling war of words among the environmental community whenever the ETA is mentioned. On so many issues, environmental groups agree, but here the division is deep. From Day One of the 2019 legislative session, the Energy Transition Act was signed, sealed and unstoppable. Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of New Energy Economy, tried to warn of the challenges with the bill but legislators, the Governor, PNM and grasstop environmental groups would have none of it.

No one has outlined what is wrong with the ETA better than Mariel in her My View published Sunday in the New Mexican and now republished as a guest blog. Please share this broadly — it explains why Sierra Club, Western Resources, Conservation Voters of New Mexico, 350NM and others supporting this bailout are wrong and why we should be grateful for tireless advocates like Mariel.

Protect People and the Planet From Corporate Greed, by Mariel Nanasi

Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

We hope this important truth is becoming self-evident: The Energy Transition Act is a bailout for the Public Service Company of New Mexico, with ratepayers paying the bills.

At the time of the ETA’s passing, PNM was facing a New Mexico Public Regulation Commission with new members who ran on campaign promises to actually regulate the company. PNM was also facing several legal challenges for the hundreds of millions of dollars they’ve recently reinvested in coal and nuclear — despite evidence that these investments were costly, risky, and had not been evaluated against renewable energy alternatives.

Remember Phase I of the San Juan abandonment case? PNM agreed to close half of the San Juan coal plant to comply with the EPA’s haze rule violations. California plant co-owners took that opportunity to abandon their interests in the plant. Big greens like Western Resource Advocates and Sierra Club convinced the PRC to approve PNM’s purchase of California’s unwanted coal shares, despite cheaper renewable alternatives.

On Feb. 24, 2017, PNM changed its mind. PNM’s board decided that shutting down San Juan would be more profitable.

In the first abandonment case, PNM cooked the books to justify its coal and nuclear reinvestments. And the old, corrupt PRC rubber-stamped its plan. Fundamental questions about who will pay for decommissioning, cleanup and transition from PNM’s coal and nuclear are coming to a head.

Many of PNM’s recent reinvestments in coal and nuclear have now been proven to be imprudent (aka financially irresponsible). PNM could very likely face cost disallowances, impacting shareholder earnings.

San Juan Generating Station will close in 2022. Four Corners Generating Station and Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station will close soon thereafter. In this situation, what’s a company centered on shareholder profits to do? The ETA provides the perfect solution — PNM can recover its bad investments in San Juan, Four Corners and Palo Verde, offload all costs onto ratepayers, and the ETA protects PNM from consequences for its poor decision-making because it strips the PRC of its regulatory authority in abandonment cases.

The ETA states: “The commission shall issue no order disallowing cost recovery for any undepreciated investments and decommissioning costs.” In the attorney general’s assessment: The ETA allows PNM to “self-regulate.” It’s no wonder that once the ETA became law, PNM’s stock hit an all-time high!

PNM’s shareholders are happy — they’ve made steady profits on coal, nuclear and gas, and offloaded their toxic assets onto ratepayers. The Big Greens are happy — they traded our regulatory protections for a working relationship with the utility that allows them to continue their incremental stroll toward the climate cliff — renewables plus nuclear by 2045, 10 years after the deadline set by scientific consensus. Who’s left holding the bag? Ratepayers.

New Mexico’s working people — 20 percent of whom are living below the poverty level, 83 percent of whom are people of color — will be paying 100 percent of the costs. PNM steals from the poorest people — Hispanics and indigenous people — and lavishes senior management and rich Wall Street investors (the 1 percent). This is blatant racism and economic injustice.

In 2018, PNM’s CEO made nearly $5 million, while 20,795 PNM customers received low-income home energy assistance and PNM sent 365,072 disconnect notices to its customers.

At New Energy Economy, we believe in corporate accountability, democracy and justice. We choose to stand up for these principles and fight to protect the people and planet from corporate greed. PNM and friends call this uncompromising. Big greens, industry and politicians have been compromising for 50 years — and now we have a climate crisis.

It’s time we try something different. Take a stand. Demand accountability. And take our power back — literally and figuratively. Join us at www.NewEnergyEconomy.org.

Mariel Nanasi is a civil rights attorney and executive director of New Energy Economy.

A Look Back at Last Week’s Posts

We Need New Systems, But We Need a Paradigm Shift in Our World View As Well: A Guest Blog.

Tuesday, November 19. So many of us are frustrated with the path of humankind. Guest blogger, Richard Welker, discussed how a new consciousness of connectedness to all things could be rising from the old mindset of exploitation and control. We see the evolution of a new set of assumptions emerging from many of the resistance movements such as XR, Sunshine, YUCCA, the Red Deal and the Green New Deal.

Retake has long advocated for new systems, as the systems that created our current climate and poverty crises simply will not serve us in trying to translate this shift of consciousness into practical policy, legislation and regulation. We need to view the world and our relationship to the earth and its inhabitants from an entirely different perspective. It is only with this shift in consciousness that we can have the imagination to create a sustainable and just vision for the future. Richard Welker does an excellent job of capturing what that shift could look like.

Click here to read the full post.

New Resources to Support Your Activism, Now At Your Fingertips

Thursday, November 21. In this post, we support your activism by putting an array of resources at your fingertips.

We also provide an inspiring video from an Iraq vet on what we need to do to stop our government’s failure to represent us. The Vet’s focus was on stopping US involvement in continuous war and conflict, but his call to action could as easily apply to our challenge in moving the needle on the climate crisis. Just 4 minutes and worth it.

Click here to review the resources designed to make your activism easier and more effective.

A Week with My New Grandchild Generates Thoughts on His Future and the Action We Must Take to Prevent Disaster

Saturday, November 23. This post wove together reflections on how the stakes are raised personally for Roxanne and I with our new grandchild. The post begins by considering research on what Torrey faces as he grows up, how our Governor is failing to create the change we need to prevent or at least mitigate the catastrophes that are looming, and what her much anticipated and woefully inadequate Interagency Climate Strategy report makes clear: she will drill & drill & drill til we stop her.

We must change our mindset, our assumptions, and our systems, and above all we must act boldly to force that change. This is an emergency even if our leaders are fine with drilling to disaster.

The post examines how the Extinction Rebellion proposes to force a shift in power and create the kind of change demanded by the scale of the crisis. Must read.

Click here to read the full post.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanee

5 thoughts on “Energy Transition Act Exposed: Guest Blog from Mariel Nanasi

  1. An excellent piece by Mariel Nanasi. It’s also quite clear why the democratic leadership does not push for Community Solar – Community Solar is about social justice and the voice of the people and the leadership is there to protect corporate interests.

  2. Regarding Mariels post on the ETA. Frankly I do not trust anyone who uses the phrase “cooked the books” I call BS.

    The ETA is exactly what is says it is… a transition. It is not going to be an easy road to where we need to go and opinions like this will only make it more difficult if not impossible to get there
    The “Sierra Club, Western Resources, Conservation Voters of New Mexico, 350NM and others supporting this bailout” and MLG have given us no reason to lose trust in their leadership on this issue. I trust their wisdom and foresight much more eagerly than a naysayer simply trying to make a name for himself by creating a fray that doesn’t need to exist.

    • I approve all posts even when they disagree and hope you continue reading, as only through the exchange of competing ideas do we get closer to the truth. I think as time moves forward, you will see that NEE was correct on this and the produced water bill supported by many enviros and the Governor, but I appreciate your input.

    • I respectfully disagree that this is a transition. Allowing corporations to control the debate and continue profiting on bad decisions which the public ends up paying for is just business as usual.

      • Hi Michael,

        Thanks for the comment, but I am confused as to what you object to in this post. Very clearly, NEE and Retake oppose corporate control of the debate or their profiting from their mistakes. That is precisely why NEE has filed suit against PNM and will argue at the PRC that the ETA is unconstitutional and allows a corporation (PNM) to regulate itself. If you can point out what you disagree about, it might help me go back and clarify anything that might have mis-stated our purpose. Again, thanks for the comment.

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