Please allow me to do what the American news media does best, simplify things, even to the point of oversimplifying. I beg your indulgence because, unlike most instances in which the news media simplify things out of compulsion or condescension, I’m being reductive to make a point.
In simplest terms, if you want to create usable energy, you have two choices: consume or manage resources.
In the former – consumed — category are wood, coal, oil and gas, all of which are more or less burned up to release usable energy. Once they’re burned they’re gone, except for some usually unwanted residues in air or soil or lungs.
In the latter – managed — category are water, wind and sunshine. Water is corralled in spillways to twirl turbines to turn dams into producers of hydro-power. Wind passes through huge propeller blades mounted on masts to start that turbine turning process towards wind-power; while in the case of the power of the sun, it is collected by cells, stored in batteries, and like water and wind, used – but not consumed, by energy customers.
The big difference could not be simpler: extracted resources like wood, coal, oil and gas are finite. Eventually you use ‘em up. And then what?
The managed resources, water, wind and the sun can have some negative downstream effects…but, in our simple-minded terms, they last forever. So, if you think about energy long-term, no question which category makes more sense.
And yet, in New Mexico, a state almost uniquely blessed with sunshine and persistent winds, development of solar and wind-power has been slow and halting. Most of the energies of government, Federal, and especially in the past 6 years of the administration of Republican governor Susana Martinez, NM State Government, have been concentrated on protecting, some would say coddling of the extractive industries…and not just energy, but in NM, copper and hard rock mining.
This short-term, I might say short-sighted policy has been enabled by a public apparently inured to endless rate increase, and a NM Public Regulation Commission which habitually approves industry please for higher rates.
Presently, there’s a kind of double-header underway in the battle over what public utilities like Public Service of NM –aka PNM can charge its customers. Our guest today, Mariel Nanasi, the President and Executive Director of the public policy group New Energy Economy has been deeply engaged in the first game…a proposed PNM rate hike, initially approved by the PRC for 2017…and will undoubtedly be pitching in the second game, a second rate increase already proposed by PNM for 2018.
And as you might expect, there is more than just money at stake here: The future environment of the Land of Enchantment, just to name one related issue.
Mariel Nanasi is the President and Executive Director of New Energy Economy, a public policy advocacy group based in Santa Fe, NM. Mariel has been most active in challenging the latest pair of rate hike requests made by PNM, Public Service of New Mexico.