Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Update: New Mexico Legislative Session 2011 – Amendments to the board of the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority; a Request to Study Barriers to Renewable Energy Development; and Expedited Transmission Siting

Four recent Bills introduced in New Mexico would address barriers to renewable energy development; would amend the board of the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA); and would provide for expedited siting of certain transmission facilities.

House Bill 387A Bill to Amend the Composition of the Board of the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA)

HB 387 would amend Section 62-16A-1 NMSA 1978 by changing the membership of the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) was introduced on February 7, 2011, passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and was referred to the Health and Government Affairs Committee on February 21, 2011. Specifically, the bill would make the following changes:

1. The total number of members increases from seven to nine.

2. The number of members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate increases from three to four.

3. The State Investment Officer is removed from the Authority and replaced with the Secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department or the Secretary's designee (changing the EMNRD Secretary from an ex-officio nonvoting member to a voting member).

4. The Commissioner of Public Lands or his designee is added to the membership.

5. The number of appointed members that are required to have special knowledge of the public utility industry and knowledge of renewable energy development is reduced from four to two.

6. One appointed member is required to be a land owner and member of an association that "works with its landowner members in the development of renewable energy." The landowner member appointed in 2011 would serve a one-year term to maintain staggered terms.

7. The number of members' votes necessary for any action to be taken by RETA and to "call" a meeting is increased from four to five.

Senate Bill 82 - A Bill to Amend the Composition of the Board of the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA)

Senate Bill 82 would remove the State Investment Officer from the Authority and keep the remaining members, thereby establishing a six member board. SB 82 thus conflicts with the nine member board that would be created under HB 387.

House Memorial 36Requesting a Study to Identify the Benefits and Barriers to Renewable Energy Resources

HM 36 was introduced on February 16, 2011 and requests that the economic development department consult with various defined stakeholders to identify the benefits and barriers to developing renewable energy resources; and make recommendations to promote the development and use of renewable energy resources and associated transmission of electricity in New Mexico and report its findings to the appropriate legislative interim committee by October 2012. The Memorial is currently before the House Business and Industry Committee.

Senate Bill 500 – Expedited Siting

SB 500 was introduced on February 15, 2011 and is currently in the Senate Conservation Committee. SB 500 would allow for electric transmission companies not otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission to apply for an expedited siting certificate to develop eligible facilities. The Bill provides that the Commission shall issue a final order on the application within one hundred and twenty days after the date the application was filed. Eligible facility is defined as an electricity transmission project that has been approved by a regional transmission organization or third-party transmission coordinator to ensure the long-term reliability of the state's bulk power system or to provide support for energy development in the state.

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