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Report: Profit's the Top Priority at PNM

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 By Beth BlakemanContact
February 29, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) has put profit above other priorities in the past few years, according to a new report from several advocacy groups.

PNM's initial response to the report is to call it inflammatory and incorrect.

Five organizations - The Sierra Club, New Energy Economy, San Juan Citizens Alliance New Mexico, DinE Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, and the Southwest Organizing Project - collaborated on the report about PNM's rates, profits and priorities from 2008 through 2012.

Mariel Nanasi, executive director of the group New Energy Economy, says the report, "Perspective on PNM," concludes that the utility has prioritized corporate profits over customers' concerns.

"There've been three rate increases in the last four years, and the vast majority has gone to PNM profit. That's basically highway robbery. It sounds more and more like PNM is acting like a big Wall Street bank."

The groups say the utility has been making money for its investors while dragging its feet on solar and efficiency programs which could create jobs, cut pollution and save New Mexicans money. The report also points to what it describes as extravagant raises for executives, sluggish investment in renewables, and a failure to specify strategic goals for customer satisfaction or protecting public health.

PNM spokesman Frederick Bermudez doesn't agree.

"They have selectively put together data to make these type of inflammatory statements that are inaccurate."

There were no rate increases from 1994 to 2007, says Bermudez, adding that executive base salaries have been frozen since 2007 and that a substantial pay increase received by the company's chief executive officer, Pat Vincent Collawn, was part of a promotion she received.

Nanasi stands by the report.

"It is based on a financial analysis of PNM's own quarterly earnings statements and other PNM documents."

The analysis cites three PNM rate hikes - in 2008, 2009 and 2011 - that it says increased average residential power bills by $250 a year. The groups say their report is a wake-up call for ratepayers and regulators to more closely scrutinize future PNM rate-hike requests.

The report is online at nmsierraclub.org.

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