AP NEWS

New Mexico panel rejects reconsideration of Facebook bill

May 17, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators have declined to reconsider their order for the state’s largest utility to bill Facebook $39 million for a new transmission line.

The state Public Regulation Commission unanimously voted Thursday to reject motions by the Public Service Company of New Mexico and two other groups that asked regulators to rehear arguments.

The commission in mid-April ordered the utility to charge Facebook nearly half the cost of the $85 million transmission line to the social media company’s data center in Los Lunas.

The commission said ratepayers could not be charged for the project, citing a utility executive’s testimony that it would only benefit Facebook.

The utility has said the executive was mistaken, noting the project is an improvement to its network that will benefit wholesale and retail customers.

The proposed 45-mile (72-mile) line would connect a wind farm near Encino to the Facebook plant south of Albuquerque, hitting switching stations at Clines Corners and in Sandoval County.

“We are deeply disappointed in the commission’s decision today,” utility spokesman Ray Sandoval told the Albuquerque Journal on Thursday. “We understand that we created initial confusion. But after clarifying the information, we believe the law and precedent should have led the commission to modify their decision. We are in the process of reviewing our options on how to proceed.”

Commissioners only used existing evidence on the record in making their decision Thursday. The motions did not explicitly ask for new evidence to be submitted through a formal rehearing.

“If they want to raise new issues, we would have to reopen the record and bring in new evidence for all parties to comment on,” Commissioner Stephen Fischmann said during the meeting. “These motions don’t ask for that.”