New Mexicans rally in support of PNM shareholder resolutions to protect consumers, climate
By Ramona Blaber
By Ramona Blaber
As a large crowd outside Public Service Company of New Mexico's Albuquerque headquarters called for more clean energy, shareholders inside considered resolutions to direct the company to take into account the risks of climate change to its finances and to ratepayers.
The first resolution would assess the portfolio impacts of policies to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius. The shareholder-advisory company ISS recommended support, saying "shareholders would benefit from additional information about the impact that climate-change regulations might have on the company and its operations."
The second requested an assessment of PNM assets that might become stranded as a result of climate change and demand reductions, and on the financial risks of those stranded assets. ISS also recommended a Yes vote on this resolution.
Neither resolution passed at PNM's annual meeting Tuesday, though shareholder Charlotte Levinson, addressing the crowd after Tuesday morning's meeting, said shareholders of Occidental Petroleum passed similar resolutions this week. Levinson said just bringing these resolutions puts pressure on PNM to understand the urgency of transitioning to cleaner energy.
"PNM has acted at a snail's pace to ends its dependence on climate-altering fossil generation. It is encouraging to see that even the investor owners are demanding a rapid transition to clean energy, for our economy and our survivability," said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy.
David Coss, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter chair, said: "As PNM is finally acknowledging that market forces have made its coal power uneconomical, it's time for the company to plan for community and worker transition, including clean-energy reinvestment in the Four Corners communities. This should be a top priority in PNM's planning."
Eleanor Bravo, Food & Water Watch Southwest director, said, "A just transition to renewables must be a mandate, leaving the devastation of fracking and pipelines in the past. Private companies like PNM need to gain awareness of the gravity of climate change and provide their customers with a 100% clean-energy option."
"Since 2008, PNM ratepayers have paid 30% more for electricity than others in the Southwest, while New Mexican household income has decreased by 6%," said Rebecca Sobel, senior climate and energy campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. "PNM executives ignore the case for renewables and are no better than Trump's cronies, expecting the public to bail out billionaires. Fossil-fuel futures are down, and PNM should be more concerned with raising up the interest of ratepayers instead of forcing us to sink more money into dirty and dangerous stranded assets."
Renewable energy costs less:
- The pollution from San Juan Generating Station causes increased rates of asthma, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, birth defects and infant mortality. A conservative 2012 estimate of the health costs is between $24.7 million to $60.8 million per year. (Dr. George Thurston Declaration PNM v. EPA Case No. 11-9557).
- In 2014, PNM ratepayers paid the highest electricity rates among PNM's regional peer group in New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona.
- From 2008 to 2016, PNM raised rates 64%, while profits rose 461%. Only 7% of that increase went to renewable energy — 93% was due to traditional resources and other expenses. PNM disconnected the electricity of 22,485 New Mexicans in 2014.
- Southwestern Public Service says its two new solar facilities will save consumers $84 million net present value over the life of the project. SPS says newly approved wind projects will save ratepayers $590 million.
- PNM's portfolio is 91% fossil fuels and nuclear and only 2% solar and 7% wind.
- When PNM issued an all-source request for proposal in 2016, it received market bids for a price of 4.2¢/kWh for solar and 3.3¢/kWh wind, both significantly below current costs of coal (7¢/kWh) and nuclear (9.5 ¢/kWh).
Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter communications coordinator