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Industry News

Utility Chief Urges New Mexico to Press On with Dereg

LCG, Sept. 28, 2000The chief executive of New Mexico's largest utility urged state regulators yesterday to press on with plans to implement retail competition in the electric market, saying California's mistakes can be avoided.

Jeff Sterba, president and CEO of Public Service Co. of New Mexico, expressed himself at a daylong seminar sponsored by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to discuss recent events in California and their implications for New Mexico.

He pointed out that New Mexico's plan for opening the electric market is "far different from the California model," and added "If we continue along the path set by the 1999 Restructuring Act, electric choice can benefit all New Mexico customers in the long term."

News of problems in San Diego, where electricity customers saw their monthly bills more than double this summer, had reached Albuquerque, and some New Mexicans have urged the commission to drop plans for opening the New Mexico electric market to competition in 2002.

Sterba said he could understand concerns raised by the San Diego experience but added that any change in plans would create regulatory uncertainty which could discourage new investment in generating plants that will be needed in the future.

"This summer's experience in Southern California was primarily the result of a combination of twofactors: an imbalance between supply and demand for electricity, and a flawed market structure,'' Sterba said. ``Neither of those factors should apply in New Mexico if we continue with implementation of the restructuring legislation we now have in place."

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