By  Peter Burrows 6/26/19 elburropete@gmail.com silvercityburro.com

New Mexico’s new energy law requires that by 2025, just over five years from now, 40% of our electricity must be from renewable sources, mostly wind and solar. Environmentalists and politicians tell us this will lower our electricity bills. They are wrong.

Empirical evidence from around the world is irrefutable: Adding wind and solar-generated electricity to an electric grid INCREASES electricity costs. This has been known for a long time, yet the push to increase renewables is unrelenting.

Why? Ignorance is one reason. Few people have the time or inclination to study how electricity is produced, but that excuse doesn’t fly for Public Service of New Mexico, PNM. After all, electricity is PNM’s business. They know how much more expensive electricity is where renewables are mandated, yet according to the Rio Grande Foundation, PNM lobbied FOR the 40% renewable requirement by 2025.

Why? The simple answer is that it will be good for PNM’s business. To achieve 40% from renewables, which is nearly ten hours a day, PNM must build a lot more solar and wind capacity and back it with storage. This will require a very large investment, which will mean more profit for PNM.

Almost all of this new capacity will be redundant, by which I mean it will not replace any fossil fuel generation, but be in addition to it. Germany provides an example of what I’m referring to. In 2015 a German think tank published a report that showed Germany’s peak electricity demand in 2013 was 83 gigawatts and total generating capacity was 192 gigawatts, well over twice the peak demand.

Furthermore, of that 192 GW, 84 GW were renewables, enough to supply Germany’s peak demand. You might think that makes Germany 100% renewable. Far, far from it. In spite of building all that renewable capacity, Germany has not shut down any fossil fuel capacity because all of it is needed for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

All those redundant solar panels and windmills still have to be paid for, don’t they? That’s why Germans pay about 30 cents a kilowatt and you and I pay about 11 cents. If PNM achieves 40% renewable, our cost of electricity could be as high or even higher than Germany’s.

That’s not the impression left by PNM spokesman Carlos Lucero at an informational meeting in Silver City on April 16, 2019. When asked if future rates would go up relative to inflation, he was quoted in the Grant County Beat as saying, “That depends on the infrastructure needs and how we pass on the costs that may or may not increase customer bills.”

Since renewables need more “infrastructure,” a.k.a. generating capacity, and that capacity will be largely redundant, PNM’s infrastructure costs will have to go up, just like in Germany. To say this “may or may not increase customer bills” is literally accurate, but very misleading. There is only one way our bills are going to go, Mr. Lucero, and that is up.

Finally, PNM would have us believe they are fighting tooth-and-nail against the environmentalists. Don’t believe it. PNM lobbied to increase renewables and they announced the company will be 100% emission free by 2040, five years ahead of the legal mandate. No environmentalist could ask for anything more.

I believe, but can’t prove, that PNM's management thinks that cutting carbon dioxide emissions is a global necessity, damn the costs. Since joining the renewable crusade also benefits the company, they see it as a win-win situation. Hence, PNM is not only going with the flow on renewables, they are manning the oars.

This will cost us, big. Don’t buy the con that it won’t.