New Mexico Cap And Trade Program Faces Appeal From Electric Utility

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s largest electric utility filed a notice of appeal Tuesday to the state’s new cap-and-trade program.

Public Service Company of New Mexico is seeking to appeal a plan to establish what state officials call the most comprehensive greenhouse gas pollution reduction regulations in the nation. The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board narrowly approved the program last month.

Utility spokesman Don Brown said the program imposes costs on New Mexico other states don’t have.

“At such a vulnerable economic time, it would put New Mexico at a disadvantage in competing for jobs,” he said.

In addition, PNM does not believe the Environmental Improvement Board has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, Brown said.

The program would force coal-fired power plants, refineries, natural gas compressor stations and other facilities that pump out a certain level of carbon dioxide each year to reduce those emissions by 2 percent annually starting in 2012.

Supporters of the cap-and-trade program say it’s the first step for New Mexico to get a handle on the pollution blamed for global warming. Critics, however, contend the regulations will lead to higher electricity costs and an exodus of businesses and jobs to surrounding states.

PNM already filed paperwork notifying federal regulators of its intention to recoup costs related to the new rules by passing those costs on to customers.

Southwestern Public Service, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, also filed a notice of appeal with the court on Tuesday, said Wes Reeves, a spokesman for Xcel.

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