Dear New Mexicans,
I would like to share with you a conflict our household is having with PNM. There are three issues that need to be addressed.
1. Incorrect billing
We recently found out that PNM has been charging us commercial rates for our private residence for the past 16 years. We only discovered this when we contracted to have solar panels placed on our studio in 2018. The solar company told us that PNM was charging us rate class 2A commercial rates and that we should be charged rate class 1A residential rates. We are a residential home on a residential lot in a residential neighborhood.
I contacted PNM on 9-7-2018 to request our rate class be changed to residential rates. It took six lengthy conversations with six different uninformed, untrained, PNM representatives to get our rate class corrected. Let's sum that up….four calls, four different dates, six different representatives, six different answers to the same questions. Keep in mind that you are on hold for ever, there are 10 people ahead of you on live chat, and no one will send you the bills you request or call you back. What a waste of time and energy. Not one person was trained to deal with my concern of overbilling and incorrect rate class.
2. Lack of informed consent
Why would I, as a consumer and a new resident to New Mexico in 2001, know of different rate classes for electricity? When we consult with a doctor, a plumber, a mechanic, or any business, we all have the right to informed consent. The law of informed consent states that each person shall be informed, honestly, of all their options for each and every situation. Consequences must be given for each and every option. Consequences must be given for inaction as well. This is the law of informed consent.
There is no informed consent on PNM’s bills. Placing a letter and a number in a tiny box on the back of a bill does not provide informed consent. PNM never informed nor did we consent to be charged commercial rates for our private residential well. A private residential well does not qualify for commercial rates.
The customer service charge for commercial rates is more than double the rate for residential customers. The energy rate charge for commercial rates is higher than residential rates too. Looking at September 2018 bills from PNM I see a customer service charge of $15.66 for commercial rates versus $7.06 for residential rates. The kWh energy rate charge for commercial customers is $0.1132436 versus $ 0.0773833 for residential customers. You can see how this difference can really add up over a 16-year period.
3. Double meters
To make matters worse, we were slapped with a second meter by PNM. They are billing us for our private residential well on one meter and our tiny house on a second meter. I contacted PNM to ask why we were slapped with a second meter and they blamed that on us and our electrician. Aaron Baldwin at PNM told me on the phone that their engineers design the system and meter needs for a new build, but completely changed his response once he put it to paper. Once again where is the informed consent? PNM never informed my husband that double meters equals double customer service fee, double taxes, double wasted paper, and double the headache.
In 2006 we started construction of a studio and the electrical needs for the studio got added on to the meter servicing our well, the commercial rate meter. Our studio is an extension of our home and is where we spend a lot of our time. I also applied for a home based food vendor’s license back in the fall of 2013 so that I could bake cookies. There is nothing about me (I work alone), my home-based food vendor’s license, our residential space and my residential equipment that warrants commercial rates.
PNM is desperate to justify their overbilling and charging us commercial rates. There has never been a commercial business or commercial anything at our home. The commercial rate class that they placed us in back in 2001-2002 was for our private residential well. Once we finished our little house (900 sq ft) we were slapped with a second meter for reasons I will never understand. A private residential well and a 900 sq ft house with no air conditioning and energy efficient appliances does not warrant double meters! That only benefits PNM.
This issue was brought to PNM’s attention 9-7-2018. PNM refused to refund the 16 years of overcharges as I requested. PNM failed to inform me of my rights which they are required to do according to the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). PNM failed to provide qualified and trained representatives to address these complaints which they are required to do according to the PRC. I got different answers from each representative I spoke with. PNM has failed to resolve this issue in an honest and timely manner.
It was a neighbor that told me to contact the Attorney General’s office and file a complaint with the PRC. I filed a complaint with the PRC on 1-22-2019. The Attorney General’s Office said it wasn’t their problem and told me to contact the PRC.
PNM’s first response to my complaint with the PRC was a threat to reverse our rate class back to commercial rates. PNM’s Aaron Baldwin sent documents clearly outlining the qualifications for rate class 1A residential versus rate class 2A commercial. Aaron Baldwin, who sent the response, clearly had not read his own documents. Aaron Baldwin came across as an uninformed bully rather than an honest professional.
On March 5, 2019, PNM offered a small settlement but as usual has refused to provide informed consent. I have requested the math, the kWh energy usage, the energy rate charge for each and every time period in question and the tax rates and customer service fees. I have requested this information over and over and over and over. All PNM has sent is a bunch of numbers crammed in little boxes with no explanation. As far as I am concerned these numbers were pulled out of their sock drawer. These mystery numbers are meaningless without the math. Here we are, eight months later and still no resolution, no informed consent and no refund.
Each and every one of us has a right to understand our bills. Nobody should have to go online and do research to understand our bill. Many people cannot afford the internet. Each and every bill, one receives, should be written in a clear and concise language so that every person regardless of education level, understands what they are being charged for. PNM has failed to do this on their bills.
Rate class 2A small power is what it said on the back of our bill. Why would I know that I was being overbilled based on this wording? How could I know that 2A small power equals commercial rates? This lack of information is deceiving to any consumer. If I had known that I was being charged commercial rates for our residential home I would have called immediately to address this problem. PNM’s lack of informed consent is keeping customers in the dark. This behavior is dishonest, unethical, and uncivilized.
PNM has dragged their feet, changed their story, failed to give me the information that I have a right to, and behaved like a bunch of incompetent, dishonest morons. PNM has chosen profits over peace, greed over gratitude, power over compassion. The representatives in charge of this case are walking through life with their eyes, ears and brains in retirement. They have accomplished nothing in the last eight months. They continue to spread conflict where ever they go. They all should be fired.
It is unfortunate that PNM is unaware that each and every sin they bury will eventually bury them. Profit over peace is poison.
It is my deepest wish that all PNM customers be blessed with their own solar panels this year and each year from here on out. Please share this information with your friends, family and coworkers. Let's hold PNM accountable for their actions.
Santa Fe, NM
p.s. GO SOLAR!!