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Apr. 16 First News: AG’s Office Opposes PNM Proposal To Charge Customers With Solar Systems (Listen)

The state attorney general's office has come out against a proposal by New Mexico's largest electric utility to charge customers with new solar power systems a monthly fee to connect to the grid. The office filed a motion earlier this week in support of dismissing Public Service Company of New Mexico's request. Attorney General Hector Balderas also has asked state regulators to investigate the effects of distributed generation on the utility system. Distributed generation refers to solar panels or wind turbines on homes and businesses that generate electricity and are connected to the grid. PNM wants solar customers pay what the utility says is their fair share for the fixed costs of maintaining the electric grid. The fee could range from about 21 to 36 dollars per month depending on the size of the system.

An immigration show-down of sorts will take place in New Orleans tomorrow. That’s when a three judge panel of the fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on the Department of Justice’s efforts to lift U-S District Judge Andrew Hanen’s February injunction blocking President Obama’s immigration actions from taking effect. The first of Obama's orders would expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The other major part would extend deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years. The Santa Fe-based immigrant-advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido has been keeping a close eye on the federal case. The organization’s Executive Director, Marcela Diaz: *****041615-Diaz-2 :21***** Diaz says she’s confident the case will be decided in the Obama administration’s favor—and soon.

Under a contractual agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the private firm Commercial Center @ 599 continues roadway work on the Veterans Memorial Highway, NM 599. The work will see the construction of a diamond interchange at Jaguar Drive for access between the highway and the Village Plaza at Tierra Contenta development located along the highway. The work started this week and will extend through May 15th. The NMDOT says it will entail the reduction of traffic in each direction on 599 to a single lane, and drivers are urged to proceed with caution through the work zone. The agency says the new interchange will result in connections for multi-modal facilities in south Santa Fe that include a multi-use trail, the Rail Runner Station at NM 599 and the Santa Fe Airport.

Governor Susana Martinez says more investment in water infrastructure will ensure New Mexico can capitalize on economic development opportunities. Without sustainable sources of clean water, she says companies won't be interested in investing in New Mexico. Martinez spoke Wednesday to a room full of water managers a meeting of the New Mexico Rural Water Association. The association's members have been looking for ways to make the most of the drought-stricken state's limited fresh water supplies while grappling with aging wells and pipelines. State officials estimate New Mexico has more than one-billion dollars in water infrastructure needs. Martinez says legislation she recently signed into law will help by making smaller municipal water associations eligible for state loans. The legislation also extends the loan payback period to 30 years.

It’s springtime in Northern New Mexico. That’s when ditch bosses crack the whip to get the ditches cleaned out and repaired after winter for the growing season ahead. This marks the 300th year the ditch or Acequia (ah-SAY-key-ah) system has been in use in Northern New Mexico. Keeping the system up and running is an even bigger challenge as new development and some landowners decide to grow less and less. As the drought deepens and we see the serious situation facing everyone who lives in the Western United States, those who have water are starting to notice how much those who do not have it are eyeing those resources. Outgoing San Francisco Ditch president Andy Vigil in Lower Ranchitos near Taos describes the situation as inevitable. *****041615-Vigil-1 :23***** It is widely held that the projected difficulties in the future, if proper stewardship of water resources isn’t practiced now, is daunting. Majordomos, the unsung heroes across the state, are dealing with the fallout of nature -- like the dams beavers build which block the flow of Acequias and cause flooding or bank erosion -- on the carefully tended ditches that are like a network of blood vessels across the traditionally maintained system.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today with the high reaching 53. Tonight: Mostly cloudy with the overnight low 28. Tomorrow: Partly sunny with a high of 54 with a slight chance for snow and rain showers.