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Utility rates keep going up

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By The Staff

Utility rates keep going up

It’s not like we didn’t tell you so, but we did tell you so.

In response to increased costs, PNM is asking for new rates — and this is after they just received a rate hike.

And it is not just PNM. Los Alamos recently approved a rate hike — in both electric and water rates.

Meanwhile, New Mexico’s largest utility company announced it has proposed new electric rates to help the state prepare for future demand and the need for cleaner energy sources.

“New Mexico’s economy and its population are growing rapidly, and so is its need for more electricity,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, president and chief executive officer of Public Service Company of New Mexico. “These proposed rates are part of our larger effort to prepare for New Mexico’s energy future, which includes new sources of power, reduced emissions at our main power plant, and increased investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

The proposed rate increase will be considered by the Public Regulation Commission and a public hearing could be held early next year. The average increase for residential, small business and industrial customers would be 18 percent.

If approved, the new rate could go into effect by August 2009.

Vincent-Collawn said PNM will help customers manage their electricity bills through new energy efficiency programs.

PNM said it recently proposed efficiency programs that would increase energy savings from existing programs by 110 percent and, over their lifetime, save enough electricity to power nearly 80,000 homes for a year.

The utility said that electricity needs in PNM’s territory are expected to grow by 2.1 percent per year between now and 2013.

PNM expects to spend about $1.3 billion on power plants, power lines and other infrastructure over the next five years to meet growing demand. That amount is nearly two-thirds more than it spent on such projects in the past five years.

PNM said it plans to devote two existing, clean-burning, natural gas-fired power plants in southern New Mexico to meeting customer demand.

It also plans an upgrade at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico, which is expected to reduce emissions by more than 24,000 tons annually and keep the plant available as a low-cost provider of electricity.

In addition to the proposed rate increase, PNM is asking state regulators to continue a fuel and purchased power cost adjustment clause. The clause allows the company to pass along to customers changes in fuel and purchased power costs incurred to provide electricity to customers without adding a profit.

That is a mouthful. But what it means is what we have been saying, that consumers are going to be getting hit from all sides.

Fuel prices going up push up travel costs, push up food costs and push up the cost of almost everything else — including utilities.