On April 15, 2020, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) ruled that The Socorro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SEC) must comply with the PRC’s Final Order within 60 days or risk financial penalties against its Board of Trustees. The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech) and the City of Socorro’s high priced attorneys and consultants made their case to the PRC that the increase in electric rates should be borne by the Residential rate class members and not the Commercial rate class members and the PRC agreed.
The PRC ruled despite SEC’s opposition and appeal of the Final Order to the New Mexico Supreme Court. SEC appealed because it does not believe that the PRC’s Final Order is a lawful order. To date, the Supreme Court has not ruled on SEC’s motion to stay the Final Order. SEC recognizes and respects the process in place for requesting utility rate changes before the PRC, but because the PRC’s Final Order inappropriately ignored the authority of SEC’s democratically elected Board of Trustees and was not in the best interests of SEC’s members, SEC exercised its right to appeal the Final Order to the Supreme Court.
While SEC is eager for a ruling from the Supreme Court, it understands that the appeals process takes time. Others are not so patient. Today’s PRC ruling followed the City of Socorro and New Mexico Tech’s filing with the PRC to compel SEC to adopt these redesigned rates immediately without waiting for any ruling from the Supreme Court. This means that more than 10,000 SEC Residential rate class members will see an increase in their electric costs to pay for the benefit of reduced rates that will be received by only 178 SEC Commercial rate class members, which includes New Mexico Tech.