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Groups Set Forum to Discuss PNM’s Latest Rate Proposal

At meeting in Albuquerque tonight, the topic is a PNM rate proposal that could affect low-income ratepayers and rooftop solar power in New Mexico. (Pixabay)
At meeting in Albuquerque tonight, the topic is a PNM rate proposal that could affect low-income ratepayers and rooftop solar power in New Mexico. (Pixabay)
March 8, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Environmental groups, faith organizations and solar-energy businesses are hosting a forum in Albuquerque tonight to discuss the latest PNM rate proposal.

The groups say the utility's plan to raise customers' monthly minimum payment and other fees could negatively affect both low-income ratepayers and the state's solar-energy industry.

Megan Bodenheimer, event organizer with Positive Energy Solar, thinks the power company's proposal is aimed at slowing the growth of rooftop solar in New Mexico.

"PNM is proposing to increase that base rate to $13, so that's like a 112 percent increase," says Bodenheimer. "Which is not good for, not just for solar customers, but anyone who's energy efficient and especially, like, low-income individuals - because that's one of the places that those groups of people can save money."

Sponsors of the forum include the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, Positive Energy Solar, Environment New Mexico and others.

Speakers will discuss how New Mexico's energy is generated and the effects that can have, both on energy bills and the environment. The forum is set for 6 p.m. at the South Broadway Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

The New Mexico Conference of Churches sees the rate hike proposal as a social issue and will be at the forum.

The Reverend Donna McNiel, conference director, says higher rates would hit hardest among people who can least afford it.

"With the PNM rate case in particular, it's that it is placing a particular burden on low-income people, at a time when our economy is weak to start with," says McNiel. "And it's penalizing those who are least able to bear that burden. And we think that's a moral issue."

The forum will also include experts on home energy efficiency to offer advice on efficient lighting, insulation and other money-saving measures.

Its organizers say the event is free and open to the public.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - NM