Morning Word

State Supreme Court Upholds Community Solar Rules

Investment firm buys midtown apartment complex, plans upgrades

NM Supreme Court upholds community solar rules

The state Supreme Court yesterday ruled against utility companies challenging the Public Regulation Commission’s rules for community solar. Southwestern Public Service Company, El Paso Electric and Public Service Company of New Mexico appealed the rule for a variety of reasons, including their contention that it violated the state’s 2021 Community Solar Act. The law allows residents who can’t install solar energy themselves—apartment tenants for instance—to buy into solar programs and receive the cost benefits. After hearing oral arguments, the court subsequently upheld the rules later in the day, a ruling Mariel Nanasi, executive director of New Energy Economy, an intervenor in the case, called a “swift and resounding rebuke,” in a statement. “In bringing this appeal, the utilities tried to frustrate the Legislature’s intent in passing the Community Solar Act by obstructing implementation of the Community Solar Rules and argue for added costs to make Community Solar subscriptions less attractive to potential subscribers,” she writes. “Community Solar developers are knocking on New Mexico’s door, eager to unleash New Mexico’s abundant solar potential. The monopoly utilities did everything in their power to hold the door shut. Today’s decisive opinion will allow for solar competition and lower cost, clean energy for New Mexicans.”

The Food Depot names new ED

Following the news of The Food Depot longtime Executive Director Sherry Hooper’s June retirement, the nonprofit announced yesterday Deputy Director Jill Dixon, who has been with the organization since 2012, will take Hooper’s place starting July 1. “Jill brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to the communities we serve,” The Food Depot Board of Directors President Len Rand says in a statement. “She has been dedicated to The Food Depot for over a decade and has the full support of the board in her new role.” Dixon served as The Food Depot’s first development director, with a news release citing her “Building Hope” capital campaign for the warehouse in Santa Fe as an early accomplishment. She also oversaw the creation of its Casita de Comida, Resource Navigation, Diaper Depot, Food 4 Pets and The Food Mobile program. “The Food Depot holds such a pivotal role in this community,” Dixon says in a statement. “It is an honor to serve our communities in such a profound way. I look forward to continuing to build on the initiatives and partnerships Sherry Hooper and I started together.”

Private equity firm buys Santa Fe apartment complex

A private investment firm has purchased a Midtown Santa Fe apartment complex, according to a news release issued yesterday. The Bascom Group acquired San Miguel Court Apartments at 2029 Calle Lorca, described as a 96-unit garden-style multifamily property built in 1974, featuring “a diverse unit mix, including one-, two- and three-bedroom units with in-home washers and dryers, hardwood-style flooring, stainless steel appliances and large walk-in closets.” The acquisition follows the group’s purchase this year of The Overlook in Albuquerque and Texan26 in Austin, Texas. “We are thrilled to acquire San Miguel Court, an exceptional asset boasting highly efficient floorplans and ample greenspace within a desirable Santa Fe location,” Bascom Vice President of Acquisitions Tom Gilfillan said in a statement. “The property is conveniently situated near various key amenities such as shopping centers, highly acclaimed restaurants, and major employers. We are encouraged by the ongoing growth in Santa Fe, propelled by robust job expansion and a favorable economic environment, and we are enthusiastic about delivering high-quality living experiences to residents and contributing to the sustained development of the community.” Bascom Senior Vice President of Portfolio Operations Paul Zakhary says in a statement the firm plans to enhance the complex with “significant community amenity improvements including a new fitness center, resident clubhouse, leasing office, dog park, and a large central park with covered BBQ stations, bench seating, outdoor games, and tot-lot.”

SFPD: Suspect in shooting incident had active warrants

Santa Fe Police yesterday issued additional information about an incident on Sunday, March 10 that resulted in two suspects and a police officer sustaining gunshot wounds. The situation began at approximately 1:30 pm when both city and state police officers tried to apprehend 35-year-old Rick Robert Chavez on active warrants including: failure to comply with conditions of probation related to trafficking of controlled substance; possession of a controlled substance; and possession of drug paraphernalia. He also had active warrants for: aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon; aggravated fleeing from a police officer and possession of a stolen vehicle; failure to report for probation; burglary and more. Law enforcement confirmed Chavez was at his father’s residence in the 2800 block of Don Quixote and saw him depart in a vehicle. They later located him at Rodeo Park Drive West and tried to apprehend him, but Chavez began to flee in his vehicle. After police unsuccessfully tried to intervene, Chavez drove his vehicle over a dirt berm at Rodeo Park Drive West to avoid apprehension and collided with a marked Santa Fe Police unit, disabling the police vehicle. Officers deployed stop stick devices, which Chavez drove over, thus deflating his tires. He then fled west on Rodeo Road into a nearby neighborhood on Vereda de Encanto, at which point he exited his vehicle armed with a handgun and entered another vehicle driven by George Anthony Theragood Jr., 42, now charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated fleeing and harboring a felon. At that point, at least one officer discharged a firearm, striking both Chavez and Theragood. An SFPD officer also was struck by gunfire. Police on the scene rendered aid and transported all to the hospital: Theragood was treated and released by the hospital to the custody of SFPD; Chavez underwent surgery and his condition as of press time has been categorized as stable but critical. The shot SFPD officer is in stable condition. State police is investigating the officer-involved shooting. SFPD says any officers directly involved will be placed on administrative leave per department policy.

Listen up

The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal podcast visits New Mexico to assess the ongoing quest to preserve access to reproductive health care in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s June 2022 reversal of Roe v. Wade. State Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, who co-sponsored legislation protecting abortion here, recounts for Reveal her recollection of the day SCOTUS overturned the decision. She was helping her daughter dress for school at the time. “I’m looking at my daughter and it just broke my heart that if she leaves New Mexico, I can’t protect her in the same way we can protect her in New Mexico,” she says. Features Editor Nina Martin also investigates concerns that a local merger between Otero County’s Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center and Catholic health care system CHRISTUS Health could lead to limits or bans on some reproductive health care (similar concerns were raised in Santa Fe in 2007).

Good, better, best

Several New Mexico locales are in the running for USA Today’s 10Best competition, including Gallup, which has made the “leaderboard” (#16) for best historical small town, described as locales with fewer than 25,000 people and “big histories, making them fun and affordable ways to dive into our nation’s past.” Grants, on a different hand, appears to be a nominee for favorite small town in the West (#8 as of press time), a category also limited to towns with fewer than 25,000 people that were “nominated by an expert panel as the best in the region.” Santa Fe is a nominee in the “favorite small college town” category (#13 at press time), aka places with “fun, youthful vibes, unexpected dining and shopping options, and plenty of cultural offerings” (no mention of actual colleges). Ruidoso is in the #4 spot for “best small town cultural scene,” again towns with no more than 25,000 inhabitants that compensate for size with “culture: museums, art galleries, performing arts and plenty of events.” Do we understand how this contest works? We do not. As far as we can glean, USA Today’s 10Best runs new categories each week for four weeks, during which time readers can vote and monitor the various leaderboards. Then, once chosen, come the bragging rights. For instance, the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts appears at #9 for 2024 in a story on “the 10 best art museums in the US and their diverse collections.” We find SFR’s OG Best of Santa Fe easier to comprehend: a reader-driven contest to identify local excellence. The nomination round is coming to a swift close—March 15—so be sure to weigh in with your picks for the 2024 ballot. After that, folks will vote and, come summer, we will party and celebrate the winners.

Pump it up

The made-in and set-in New Mexico lesbian body-building film Love Lies Bleeding (here’s the trailer) opens this week (March 15) and is garnering plenty of interest and strong reactions. Directed by Rose Glass, the film stars Kristen Stewart, Katy M. O’Brian and Ed Harris. Plot: “Reclusive gym manager Lou (Stewart) falls hard for Jackie (O’Brien), an ambitious bodybuilder headed through town to Vegas in pursuit of her dream. But their love ignites violence, pulling them deep into the web of Lou’s criminal family.” The BBC calls the movie “the most gleefully outrageous film of the year,” describing it as a “brazenly disgusting and filthy new revenge thriller.” The New Yorker says Glass’ “reliance on genre conventions—in this case, those of neo-noir—prevents her from fully working out the narrative premise.” That premise being: “a battle to reveal the hidden grip of a predatory small-town patriarch.” Glass’ over-reliance on genre in her début feature, Saint Maud, left the characters undeveloped, Richard Brody writes. In Love Lies Bleeding, “the result is more entertaining…because Glass fashions the premise into such a clever, brisk, and twisty story.” GQ delves into O’Brian’s past as a bodybuilder, along with steroids, queer representation and filming her first sex scene with Kristen Stewart. The New York Times says Glass “takes familiar themes and more than a few clichés—romantic doom, family trauma—and playfully bends them to her purposes. Most obviously, she upends the heterosexual coupling that powers so many movies, including gun-crazed noirs in which violence is sex (and vice versa).”

Get it while you can

The National Weather Service has issued a special weather statement in advance of a winter storm system anticipated later this week. As for today: sunny, with a high temperature near 58 degrees and northwest wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word has been catching up on pop culture: the recent Saturday Night Live State of the Union skit (with Republican Senator Katie Britt’s aka Scarlett Johansson’s response) and Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken” performance from the Oscars.

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