New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission (PRC) should be led by experts, not politicians. We have some of the best renewable energy resources in the world and have passed some of the most ambitious clean energy policies in the country. We are poised to lead a clean energy revolution that could mean our homes, business, cars and industry are powered by clean, renewable energy. But all of that depends on having a PRC with expertise, independence and experience. Unfortunately, in the 20+ years since our commission became elected, it has too often lacked all of those characteristics. New Mexico’s commission is one of only 11 led by politicians rather than experts, and the only one in that group with a 100% clean energy target.
This reform would enact one of the most rigorous commission selection processes in the country. A bipartisan nominating committee, which will include Native representation, will provide the Governor a list of qualified, geographically diverse experts from which to select. Once the Governor selects from that list, the appointee must also be reviewed and approved by the New Mexico Senate. Modeled after how judges are selected, this robust nominating process will ensure that every future commissioner will be an expert qualified in the complex matters that come before the PRC, and who is independent of special interests.
Constitutional Amendment 1 will also reduce the influence of political spending. Like it or not, the PRC is a down-ballot election that many New Mexicans don’t follow closely. When we vote our values for clean energy, healthy air and water, we do so for our legislative representatives and our governor, but how many folks honestly know whether their PRC representative is qualified, independent or has any experience? Only a handful of commissioners in the last 20 years have had any energy, telecom or utility regulatory experience before running, and the commission has rarely had a pro-clean energy majority.
On the other hand, the industries regulated by the PRC always pay close attention to these races, and in recent years hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to win a handful of commission seats. This money has the potential to influence the decisions commissioners make. The PRC has a history of undermining the clean energy policies passed by the legislature. They stalled the implementation of the renewable energy standard, undermined our state energy efficiency standard, approved millions in investments in coal and only applied the Energy Transition Act after being mandated to do so by the state supreme court.
In New Mexico voters have shown we want clean energy leadership. Now we need an expert PRC that can implement that vision, not politicians that might second guess it.
For all of these reasons, I urge you to join the long list of supporters of CA-1!
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
PRC Commissioner Cynthia Hall
Former PRC Commissioner Doug Howe
Former PRC Commissioner Jason Marks
Majority Leader Peter Wirth
Speaker of the House Brian Egolf
Native American Voter Alliance (NAVA) Educational Project
National Education Association - NM
America Votes New Mexico
New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
Natural Resources Defense Council
Rio Grande Chapter Sierra Club
Environmental Defense Action Fund
Center for Civic Policy
Empowerment Congress of Doña Ana Co.
Policy Solutions Institute
Interwest Energy Alliance
Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)
Western Clean Energy Campaign
350.org New Mexico
League of Conservation Voters
Western Environmental Law Center
New Mexico CAFé
Western Resource Advocates
Renewable Energy Industries Association of New Mexico