arvesting more of the sun's energy in Santa Fe is one step closer to reality. Video archiving legislative committee meetings is a good idea, but it won't become a reality until lawmakers agree to it. That, plus the devastating impact of oil price declines in New Mexico. Conservative forecasts show 2,000 or more jobs could be lost around the state.
It's Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The Santa Fe County Commission has approved the Public Service Company’s plans to build two solar farms.
“The approval of these solar centers is an important step forward as we continue to build a cleaner, more diverse resource portfolio, including renewable energy, to responsibly meet the needs of our customers in the communities we serve,” Ron Darnell, PNM’s senior vice president of public policy, said in a statement released immediately after the votes.
Bloomfield city councilors have decided to take another step toward creating their own electric utility. They’re hiring a legal team to help with the effort.
Bloomfield utility customers pay the city of Farmington $12 million in gross revenue for power each year, City Manager David Fuqua said after the meeting. The city owning and operating its own electric utility would lead to greater savings for customers and keep those dollars in Bloomfield, he said.
Thousands of oil field jobs in New Mexico are on the line as oil prices continue to decline. The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department estimates 2,000 positions could be cut in the next few months, and that number may be “conservative.”
The number of drilling rigs operating in the state has dropped from 85 last spring to 60, department Secretary David Martin told participants at the annual San Juan Basin Energy Conference in Farmington on Tuesday. The rig count dropped in both the Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico and the San Juan Basin in the Four Corners area as producers slashed planned production to compensate for plummeting oil prices, which fell from more than $100 per barrel last summer to less than $45 in early January.
BP’s onshore business chief says the company has decided not to sell its assets in the San Juan Basin after all. He says the company is focused on becoming more efficient. Other industry executives attending an energy conference in Farmington are expressing frustration with fracking bans imposed by local government and by the lack of a railroad to transport crude oil for refining and sale, as well as receiving industry goods.
Speaking of “oil trains,” KRQE’s Matt Grubs discovered most but not all volatile crude oil shipments are bypassing New Mexico.
Just what’s on the freight trains that rumble across the state is a closely held secret. Railroads have fought attempts to force them to disclose manifests publicly, citing trade secrets and safety concerns.
KUNM’s Ed Williams reports new federal fracking rules will impact about half of the state’s wells, because they’re drilled on public lands.
Wally Drangmeister, of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said that could put New Mexico at a disadvantage in attracting energy development.
“Just to have another layer of regulation, the biggest impact is not necessarily an environmental protection, it’s just an increased cost,” he said.
A New Mexico Environment Department geologist says plans are set to start building a groundwater remediation well on an Albuquerque church’s property to start cleaning up the decades-old Kirtland Air Force Base gas plume leak.
Both of New Mexico’s US Senators want Los Alamos National Laboratory to be able to set aside up to 10 percent of its budget for Laboratory Directed Research and Development. That program advances frontiers of science and engineering, invests in critical national security missions and helps recruit and retain staff for national laboratories.
It will cost more to shop in Santa Fe after County Commissioners agreed to increase gross receipt taxes.
The increase, which will add almost 13 cents to every $100 purchase, is intended to make up for revenue reductions due to the state phasing out payments intended to reimburse local governments for money they lost when New Mexico exempted groceries and medicine from the gross receipts tax in 2004.
The Doña Ana CountyCommission has also voted to increase gross receipts taxes 3/8 of 1 percent. The increase starts July 1.
A good case is being made to require that video recordings of legislative committee meetings be archived after Phil Griego’s resignation from the Senate this month. A video from a Senate Rules Committee last year shows Griego offering what appears to be misleading testimony in support of a resolution to sell a state building he later earned a sales commission for help brokering.
Even before Griego collects his first state retirement check, two people who want to replace him in the Senate are sharing their vision of how they can best serve the district.
New Mexico’s Republican Party is already gearing up for the 2016 election. Dan Boyd reports the state GOP has hired four new executives to lead next year’s state campaigns, which will be focused on keeping control of the House and trying to win control of the Senate.
A longtime New Mexico artist and philanthropist donated $50,000 to the Western New Mexico University Foundation to establish an artist lecture series that will promote women in the arts.
George Gonzales, who served as Santa Fe’s mayor from 1968 to 1972 and is the father of current Mayor Javier Gonzales, has died.