Editorial: State PRC did the right thing to halt Tri-State’s rate hike

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The state Public Regulation Commission gave a nice holiday gift to Kit Carson Electric Cooperative members last week when it halted a rate hike that would have upped bills by an estimated 5 percent on Jan. 1.

The PRC will now order an investigation into whether the proposed increase by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the co-op’s wholesale electricity supplier, is justified.

Well, happy New Year.

Protests filed by Kit Carson and two other New Mexico co-ops gave the PRC the authority to suspend the rate hike, plus pursue an investigation and hearing.

When it merged in 2000 with Plains Generation and Transmission, Tri-State agreed that it would submit to some regulation if three or more co-ops protest and the commission determines there is just cause to review a rate increase. Such language became law specifically to get the merger approved.

Now, the big guns at Tri-State say the PRC doesn’t have the authority, claiming the law is and always has been unconstitutional. If that’s the case, we believe Tri-State negotiated in bad faith to get its merger through.

Tri-State has already threatened to go to federal court to fight any oversight from the state — a move that will cost ratepayers a fortune in legal fees and drag the issue out for months, if not years.

In a statement, Tri-State’s spokesman said the supplier was “disappointed” with the PRC’s decision. Frankly, we are disappointed with Tri-State for reneging on the obligations it agreed to 12 years ago.

Kudos to the three New Mexico co-ops, including ours, that stood up to Tri-State. During a recent rate hike, the PRC took a hard look at Kit Carson’s operations concerning diversification and its own request for a rate increase and came up with a reasonable compromise. We urge Tri-State, for the sake of the 1.5 million people it serves, to open up to the same kind of scrutiny.

Saving a life

During the first snow earlier this month, two Taos police officers saved a homeless man’s life after he had fallen.

Sgt. David Weaver and new officer Brandt Wareman on a late Sunday night patrol got a call that a man was down in a business’ parking lot. When they didn’t find anyone, they searched the area until they located the man, passed out, in a nearby lot.

The extra effort by these two officers paid off. The man’s core body temperature was 85 when he was taken to Holy Cross Hospital so he was likely on his way to freezing to death.

Certainly the homeless, who might not be aware we have a shelter in Taos, can be victims to bad weather. But this could also happen to our elderly, children, and anyone who has a bad fall.

We commend Weaver and Wareman for taking a look around. Now, that’s what we call fine police work.

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