SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld provisions of an environmental law that provides financial arrangements for an electric utility to abandon investments in a coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.
In a unanimous opinion announced Jan. 10, the court upheld a finance order from state utility regulators that helps end the use of the San Juan Generating Station by Public Service Company of New Mexico.
The order allows the investor-owned utility to bill $361 million to utility customers as it moves forward with plans to abandon the power plant and raise money to shore up local employment.
Two advocacy groups for utility customers challenged the financial arrangements and the constitutionality of the 2019 Energy Transition Act that aims to phase out electricity sources linked to heavy emissions of climate-warming gasses.
An opinion from Justice David Thomson said that advocacy groups were unable to show that the new law results in unreasonable charges on utility bills.
The court rejected arguments that the Legislature overstepped its constitutional authority or infringed on the utility commission’s responsibility for regulating utility companies.
“While the New Mexico Constitution delegates to the Commission the exclusive responsibility for carrying out public utility regulatory policy, the parameters of that policy are, in the first instance, for the Legislature to decide,” Thomson wrote.
The opinion was applauded by a long list of environmental advocacy groups, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Western Resource Advocates.
“The court’s decision now frees up this important funding for worker training and community assistance,” said Steve Michel, deputy director of clean energy at Western Resource Advocates, in a news release.
Originally published by The Associated Press.
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