Local News

  • Study compares energy portfolio options

    With the county’s power supply facing several challenges in upcoming years, the Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities is weighing what the county’s electric portfolio should look like in the future.
    To assist that decision, Pace Global was hired to develop an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The IRP will compare various generation resources available to meet the county’s needs on a levelized cost of energy basis. The study will evaluate each option for potential risks and benefits, reliability and economic feasibility.
    On Jan. 18, Pace Consulting Director Fengrong Li reported to the board on the first steps of that project and the questions their modeling will try to answer.
    BPU’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2040 formed the underlying directive for all the potential portfolios Pace planned to evaluate. However, board members Andrew Fraser and Stephen McLin asked Li to add a lowest cost scenario that was not necessarily carbon neutral in order to make it easier to weigh the cost/benefits of reaching that goal.
    One major factor Pace will consider is the plan to exit the county’s ownership share in the San Juan Generating Station when the contract expires in 2025.Based on the county’s current energy needs, that resource would have to be replaced with another baseload power source.

  • Marchers find protests inspiring

    Los Alamos citizens who participated in the Women’s March on Washington in Washington, D.C. and Santa Fe were invigorated by the event and inspired to further action.
    News sources estimate that more than 500,000 people attended the march in Washington with more than 1 million people demonstrating throughout the U.S. Local news sources such as the Santa Fe New Mexican and KOB News place the Santa Fe march at between 10,000 and 15,000 people.
    Two Los Alamos County councilors attended the Santa Fe rally.
    Vice Chair Susan O’Leary attended with her daughter.
    “She’s 11 years old, and I brought her because I want her to know that her voice matters and that it’s always a good thing for her to stand up for herself and to let her government know what she expects of them,” O’Leary said.
    O’Leary found the march to be very positive.
    “People were excited, they were proud to be marching,” O’Leary said. “I was really proud to be there.”
    “The whole thing was truly inspirational,” Councilor Chris Chandler said.
    Chandler estimates that more than 50 women drove down from Los Alamos. She almost did not go because the weather was so bad. Now she’s glad she did.

  • LANL’s aging plutonium, uranium research building may stay open

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Chemistry and Metallurgy Research building, used for research and experiments on plutonium and uranium, could remain open until 2021. The building was due to close in 2019.
    Some nuclear and environmental experts say the 65-year-old building has outlasted its use. The building also sits on an earthquake fault line, they say.
    Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a nuclear disarmament and environmental organization, believes CMR’s life extension is “very likely,” and he would like to see the building closed sooner rather than later.
    “It is expected to fall down under a relatively small earthquake. It’s not a safe building, apart from the mechanical systems in the building, which have not received the kind of maintenance they would receive if someone planned to continue working in the building past 2019. The building is being run to failure,” Mello said.
    The CMR building has been slated for possible closure or replacement since the 1990s. Serious debate in Congress began on the future of the building in the early 2000s. There was a plan to replace the facility altogether, but it was ultimately scrapped in 2014 by the Department of Energy due to cost concerns. The NNSA then agreed to cease all operations at the building by 2019.

  • Levy, bond both pass

    Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus and University of New Mexico-Los Alamos CEO Cindy Rooney thanked the community Tuesday night, after they learned residents voted in favor of the one mill levy to help support UNM-LA and to support the reconstruction of Barranca Mesa Elementary School with $13 million in general obligation bonds.

    The Los Alamos County Clerk's Office reported that 4,912 residents voted for the school bond and 1,322 voted against it. For the UNM-LA mill levy, 3,928 voted for It and 2,221 voted against it.
    Before the vote was announced, Rooney said she was nervous, yet hopeful that a majority of residents would vote "yes" for the levy increase. 

    Throughout the month, Rooney and UNM-LA garnered much support for the campaign. Funds raised through the levy, once it goes into effect, will pump about $700,000 a year into the school'sprograms and curriculum.

    "I'm very pleased with the number people that have shared their stories with me and the press on the positive impact that UNM-LA has had on their lives," she said.

  • Bills to reinstate New Mexico's solar tax credit move ahead

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Bipartisan efforts are making headway in the New Mexico House and Senate to reinstate a tax credit that spurred nearly a quarter billion dollars of investment in roof-top solar and related jobs before expiring last year.

    A Senate panel on Tuesday endorsed one of three identical bills that call for renewing the credit for an additional eight years. A House committee took similar action Monday.

    The credit expired in 2016 despite attempts during the previous legislative session to extend the program. The chief concern last year was the $5 million it would cost the state annually to continue the program.

    While lawmakers are still grappling with a budget crisis, supporters say the return on investment outweighs the cost and that the legislation should be seen as an economic development bill.

  • Plan to fix New Mexico budget deficit clears House

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Legislature locked in major provisions of a plan to close the state's general fund deficit and rebuild reserves on Monday, as the House of Representatives approved cuts to local school district funding and other cash transfers and spending reductions.
    The Democratic-led House approved funding cuts of 2 percent to most school districts across the state, while exempting districts with low cash reserves. Another bill that won House approval would transfer cash balances from various state accounts into the general fund, while reducing spending on items including merit pay for teachers and economic development incentives for businesses that expand or relocate to New Mexico.
    The approvals complete a package of four solvency bills that would funnel about $260 million into the state general fund to eliminate an $80 million deficit for the current fiscal year ending on June 30 and create a modest financial cushion. The budget crisis is the result of plunging state tax revenues tied to a downturn in the oil sector and a sluggish overall state economy.
    The Senate has approved similar bills, but it still must sign off on a series of House amendments before the budget plan can be sent to GOP Gov. Susana Martinez for possible approval.

  • Today in history Jan. 24
  • Latest storm dropping snow in northern, western New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A now-weakened storm that dropped significant snowfall in Arizona's high country has moved eastward into New Mexico where snowfall continues and difficult driving conditions are reported on many roads and highways.
    The National Weather Service says snowfall continued Tuesday morning across northern and western New Mexico and that additional snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches expected.
    A winter storm warning was in effect in the Chuska and San Juan mountains until noon Tuesday.

  • Electric system reliability earns recognition

    In 2008, power outages for Department of Public Utilities customers reached a record peak of 300 minutes a year, sparking the department to initiate an intensive capital improvement program to reduce that average to 60-minute or less per year.
    DPU reached that goal in 2011. A setback occurred in 2012, when a major power outage in White Rock doubled that to two hours, but reliability has steadily increased since then.
    Based on the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), the nationally recognized measure for reliability, DPU’s average in December 2016 was just 23 minutes for the previous 12 months.
    The rolling average in September was only 19 minutes.
    “Some customers will be higher, some will be lower,” said Rafael De La Torre, deputy utility manager for electric distribution. “But on average, over our entire customer base over the last year, it would be about 23 minutes.”
    In recognition of that achievement, the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) just presented DPU with a System Improvement Award.

  • On the Docket 1-22-17

    Jan. 5
    Linda Saisa pled no contest in  the Los Alamos Magistrate Court of driving while under the influence of liquor and/or drugs (.08 or above, first offense). Defendant must pay $241 in court costs. Defendant must also spend 90 days in the Los Alamos Detention Center, all suspended. Defendant must also perform 24 hours of community service and must undergo 364 days of supervised probation.

    Jan. 6
    Mark Kenamond was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $75 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Jan. 8
    Darryl M. Sugar was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six-10 miles an hour over the speed limit through Citepay. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Jan. 9
    Rita M. Toledo was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to display a current, valid registration plate, not having proper car insurance and two counts of failing to appear in court. Defendant was fined $175 and must also pay $260 in court costs.

    Dominic R Archuleta  was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six-10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant must pay $65 in court costs. Sentence deferred until March 9.