New York Poised to Close Last Coal-fire Power Plant

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Construction Commences on Enel’s Aurora Wind Farm in North Dakota

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Industry News

Gas Rate Increase Sought by PNM

LCG, Jan. 13, 2002--The Public Serivce Company of New Mexico (PNM) has filed for an increase in natural gas rates, based on increases in fees that it says would offset costs to maintain and expand its pipeline network.

The Public Regulation Commission will consider the proposal, which asks for increases in monthly access fees, transportation and distribution charges, and increases in hook-up and reconnection fees. Addtional charges to last one year would be used to cover costs incurred but not allowed during a 1997 rate case. The average additional cost per month for residential customers is anticipated to be $6.67, while small business would pay an average of $13.74 more per month.

Bill Real, the senior vice president of public policy for PNM, said that the company has been responsible for the costs of keeping its pipeline growing and working for 10 years, costs that he said amount to $300 million. PNM will reportedly experience new costs associated with compliance with a federal pipeline safety law ($16 million), as well as with more expensive construction materials, technologies and employee training.

The rate increase would be used to construct 30 miles of new pipeline on the West Side of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho ($22 milllion), and to install corrosion-resistant polyethylene pipe along 150 miles where steel pipe now lies ($23 million).

The utility has achieved a 3 per cent return on equity in the past year, whereas the increase is expected to yield a 12 per cent return on equity. The case is expected to take 10 months. Sam Thompson, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Patricia Madrid, said, "We will ensure that any proposed rate increase is both necessary and as low as possible."
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