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Today's 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.

  • Today in history May 19
  • Voters question council candidates

    The League of Women Voters of Los Alamos held its first forum of the 2016 election on Thursday at University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. The focus was on primary candidates in contested elections: the four Democratic candidates for Los Alamos County Council and the three Democrats running for the First Judicial District Attorney.
    The two Republican candidates for U.S. Dist. 3 representative were also invited, but only Michael Romero attended. Since Michael Glenn Lucero was not there, Romero was allowed to make a statement but not respond to questions.
    These are some of the questions voters put to council candidates and their responses.
    One voter asked how economic development funds should be utilized.
    Incumbent Pete Sheehey’s response covered a history of the fund. He stated that it should be used to attract new business and to get Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) spinoffs to stay here.
    “I’m conflicted about it, because I recognize there is a need to diversify the economy. But my concern is, local government does not have the talent or the perspective to be able to identify good investments.” candidate Chris Chandler said, pointing to the two failed attempts to attract air service.

  • 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.

  • Today in history May 18
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Success in the heart, UNM-LA grads told

    Terry C. Wallace Jr., the principal associate director for global security at Los Alamos National Laboratory, started the commencement speech with a Scottish proverb.
    “When the will is ready, the feet are right,” he said. “You’ve accomplished something special, and significant. You pursued an education, personal betterment, and frankly, you did so against all sorts of challenges, which makes this accomplishment even more outstanding.”
    About 100 graduates, dressed in their University of New Mexico-Los Alamos red and orange gowns and caps, waited for their big moment Thursday night at the Los Alamos First Baptist Church.
    The event lasted an hour as Wallace, and fellow students Craig One Feather and Jemima Spill, imparted many valuable lessons to the graduating class.
    Wallace urged the graduates to do what it takes to follow their dreams, acknowledging the fact that a number of the graduates already had careers and families.  

  • Today in history May 17
  • Upgraded White Rock center to open in autumn

    If all goes well, the newly renovated White Rock Senior Center and surrounding buildings will reopen for business at the White Rock Municipal Complex by Oct. 31.
    The senior center will also be open for lunch. That’s because the newly renovated senior center will feature a commercial kitchen, something it has never had before and really needed, according to Pauline Schneider, executive director of the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization.
    “Even though it’s not an assisted care facility or anything like that, the focus has always been on recreation, socialization, education and now nutrition,” she said at Monday’s White Rock Master Plan Implementation Committee meeting at the White Rock Public Library.
    WRMPIC had spent several years guiding this project and others to fruition. June will be the last time the committee meets, as it’s fulfilled its purpose. Schneider is a member of the committee.
    Before the senior center renovation project began, all hot meals were cooked and prepared at the Betty Ehart Center and driven down to White Rock. The new kitchen will enable the senior center to be more like the Ehart Center when it comes to meal planning and programming.
    The White Rock Senior Center also will have better bathrooms.