Local News

  • Value of nuclear power up for debate in New Mexico rate case

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Discrepancies over the value of electricity purchased from a nuclear-fired power plant in Arizona has interrupted proceedings related to a request by New Mexico's largest electric utility to raise rates for more than a half-million customers.

    A hearing officer has extended the schedule in the Public Service Co. of New Mexico case so more evidence related to the Palo Verde plant can be submitted.

    The move was spurred by what the officer described as "significant unanswered discrepancies" that arose after the utility recalculated the net book value of power purchased from one of the units at the Arizona plant.

    PNM valued the power at just over $83 million, nearly $20 million less than what utility officials had testified to during a hearing last month, according to an order issued by the hearing officer on Wednesday.

    Environmentalists, who have been raising questions about the costs, said the overvaluation could have amounted to a $100 million burden for ratepayers over the life of the plant.

    Mariel Nanasi, a frequent critic of the utility and executive director of Santa Fe-based New Energy Economy, accused PNM of misleading the state Public Regulation Commission about the actual cost of the Palo Verde power.

  • Bernie Sanders adds rally in southern New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — Bernie Sanders is adding a third rally to his swing through New Mexico to drum up support ahead of a June 7 presidential primary vote.

    The Vermont senator and Democratic presidential hopeful announced Thursday a rally at an elementary school in the largely Hispanic town of Vado between Las Cruces and El Paso, Texas.

    Pollsters expect Hispanics will account for at least half of Democratic primary voters in New Mexico.

    Sanders is scheduled to speak Friday to audiences at a community college in Santa Fe and a convention hall in Albuquerque. He is the first presidential candidate to visit New Mexico.

    Sanders trails in the delegate count but has vowed to stay in the race through the final primary date that includes New Mexico and California.

  • Trump to make stop in Albuquerque

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has scheduled his first campaign appearance in New Mexico — the state with the highest percentage of Hispanics in the nation and where its GOP Latina governor has previously denounced him.

    His campaign website announced Thursday that Trump will hold a rally Tuesday evening at the Albuquerque Convention Center as New Mexico prepares for its primary two weeks later on June 7.

    Trump's scheduled visit to the state comes after Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation's first Latina governor and a rising star within the GOP, has harshly criticized his past statements about Mexican immigrants and Mexico.

    Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and last year he compared Mexican immigrants to rapists and drug dealers.

    Martinez has urged comprehensive immigration reform and asked candidates to tone down their rhetoric amid strong anti-immigration sentiment from some fellow Republicans.

  • Today in history May 19
  • Today in history May 18
  • Wildfire-fighters warn 2016 could be bad

    California could face a dangerous and difficult wildfire season in 2016 despite a relatively wet winter, federal officials warned Tuesday.
    Most of the rest of the nation is expected to see an average summer, but even that means thousands of wildfires, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said after a briefing from the U.S. Forest Service, which is part of his department.
    A five-year drought has left 40 million dead and dried-out trees in California, including 29 million that died last year alone, Vilsack said.
    “This creates a tremendous hazard, potential hazard, for fires and firefighting this year,” he said.
    An El Niño weather pattern brought near-normal snowfall to parts of California last winter, but its forests need much more rain and snow to recover fully from the drought, Vilsack said.
    Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said Southern California didn’t benefit from the El Niño as much as the state’s northern mountains.
    He said the effects of drought will continue to kill California’s trees for at least three more years.
    Tidwell and Vilsack said the Forest Service — the primary federal wildfire-fighting agency — has 10,000 firefighters ready nationwide, along with more than 350 aircraft and 900 fire trucks.

  • Watchdogs file lawsuit over cleanup at LANL

    LOS ALAMOS (AP) — A watchdog group is suing the federal government and managers of one of the nation’s premier nuclear weapons laboratories over missed deadlines for cleaning up hazardous waste left behind by decades of research.
    Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed its lawsuit in federal court, naming the U.S. Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Security LLC as defendants.
    The lawsuit points to a dozen violations. It says the defendants are liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil penalties for failing to comply with a 2005 cleanup agreement with state officials.
    The Department of Energy did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment. The agency typically doesn’t address pending litigation.
    The state recently proposed changes to the cleanup plan. The public has through the end of May to comment.

  • Burglary suspect nabbed in SF

    A 28-year-old Santa Fe man suspected of being involved in two April burglaries in Los Alamos has been caught, police said. The man, Jeremy Chavez, was caught after a brief car chase in Santa Fe around 1 p.m. April 16 after two people reportedly burgled a house in Los Alamos on Totavi Street.
    Santa Fe detectives apparently were able to tie Chavez to the burglaries from items found in his car shortly after police apprehended him. Chavez reportedly confessed his part in the burglary to Santa Fe detectives shortly after he was caught.
    The other person in his car was not the accomplice, according to court documents.
    Chavez told authorities that he and another suspect, who has not been apprehended yet, drove up to Los Alamos in a stolen White Mazda sedan that Saturday morning on April 16. In his confession, Chavez described to Santa Fe detectives what the house they burgled looked like, and Los Alamos detectives were able to match the description to an earlier complaint they received from a Totavi homeowner.

  • Volunteers needed for trail cleanup

    Open Space Specialist Eric Peterson had a disappointing turnout for the first of four Trail Cleanup Days he has scheduled for this year. On Earth Day, no one showed up.
    Peterson admitted it might be a difficult day to get volunteers, since Earth Day fell on a Friday this year. He is hoping the second event – scheduled for Saturday to coincide with National River Cleanup – is more successful.
    Volunteer help has long been a critical part of maintaining the extensive series of trails in Los Alamos County. Restoring trails after both the Cerro Grande and Las Conchas fires would have been a monumental task without the efforts of volunteers.
    After the enthusiasm for restoring trails after a major catastrophe wears off, volunteerism tends to decline. But the fact is that trails need regular maintenance, and at present, Peterson is a one-main show. He is hoping to build a network of volunteers who will support several trail cleanups a year, and encourages trail users to participate.
    “This is just kind of the beginning, I’m hoping. If this goes well, I’ll be offering more volunteer projects throughout White Rock and Los Alamos,” Peterson said.
    Volunteers can show up at 9 a.m. Saturday at Overlook Park. The day will begin with a safety talk and filling out a waiver.

  • Honoring the fallen

    One name stood out Monday at the Los Alamos Police Department’s annual memorial to fallen police officers.  
    Det. Daniel Roberts called out that name three times during a ceremonial roll call at the memorial, but former Cmdr. Scott Mills did not answer. Instead, another police officer standing by the memorial silently walked over and faced the memorial’s bronze plaque, paused, then removed a small piece of black cloth covering a section of the memorial.
    Underneath was Scott Mills’ name.
    The memorial is reserved for those officers who served with the department but who did not die in the line of duty.
    “Although I did not know Scott personally, I know he will be remembered as a man who cared deeply for others,” said LAPD Chief Dino Sgambellone. “As stated in his obituary, as Scott moved through the ranks of law enforcement, he took pride in serving his community and showed compassion and kindness for all those he came in contact with.”
    Mills joined the LAPD in 1998 and except for a three-year stint with the Albuquerque Police Department from 2010 to 2012, served with the LAPD until 2013, when he retired.
    Mills was killed March 15 on Hwy. 550, while riding his motorcycle off-duty. He was slowing down to make a left turn when he was hit from behind by a pickup truck.