May 22, 2021

PNM’s rural electric service issues need fixing | My View

PNM's rural electric service issues need fixing | My View

After experiencing another power outage that lasted over six hours on Sunday, May 16, I’m fed up with Public Service Company of New Mexico and the lack of reliable service where I live.

The electricity in an area around and including my house has become more erratic over the time (27 years) that we’ve lived at our address off County Road 42 in Santa Fe County. We have had outages from time to time and chalked it up to living in a rural area.

However, in the past year, the outages have become more frequent and seem to indicate there’s a bigger problem. The short outages often are less than a minute and, until about a year ago, have been occasional. In the past year, they have become weekly and, more recently, daily occurrences. We’ve had three power outages, one lasting 12 hours and two lasting six hours since the beginning of 2021. That’s in addition to several shorter outages.

After reaching out to the Public Regulation Commission for help after the first two long outages, we along with other residents in our area received a letter from PNM saying it has “identified steps needed for PNM to begin to correct the problems causing the outages” and that “work began on February 15, 2021.” It also stated, “PNM will also continue to investigate and solve the voltage issues contributed from feeder configuration and private solar installations in your area.” I’m not sure what all that means, but it doesn’t sound entirely convincing.

PNM is asking for a rate increase (PRC case No. 20-00237-UT) to increase support for electric vehicle use. In another case, it is asking to pass along the cost of closing the coal-fired generation plant in the Four Corners area. Why should existing ratepayers who cannot receive reliable electricity service for normal use pay for PNM to change its business plan? I am opposed to any rate increases or pass-along costs until PNM can provide reliable service to its existing customers. I’m all for electric vehicles and solar installations, and would be happy to participate in funding those — as long as PNM meets its monopolistic obligations. Perhaps PNM bosses could squeeze a bit out of the corporate compensation and dividends instead of the customers?

It’s hard to imagine that a merger with a huge out-of-country parent company will somehow “fix” the local service problems and give any of us better service. I’m hopeful the PRC, the county commissioners and the Legislature will exert the influence necessary to assure PNM customers are served appropriately.

Suzanne Fuqua is a rural customer of PNM since 1994.

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