New Energy Economy asked the state supreme court to bar Lovejoy from hearing the case

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FARMINGTON — Public Regulation Commissioner Lynda Lovejoy has recused herself from a Public Service Company of New Mexico’s Integrated Resource Plan case involving the future of the San Juan Generating Station.

Her action came after a writ was filed in the New Mexico Supreme Court by non-profit advocacy group New Energy Economy asking for Lovejoy and Commissioner Sandy Jones to be barred from hearing the case. 

Lovejoy represents northwest New Mexico, including San Juan County. The Integrated Resource Plan calls for closing the San Juan Generating Station in 2022 and the Four Corners Power Plant in 2031. Local leaders say this could devastate the economy.

 

Cost of defense too high

Lovejoy filed her recusal paperwork on Tuesday.

“That one was a very tough decision for me, but I cannot compete against New Energy Economy,” Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy said she does not have the money to hire lawyers and fight New Energy's filing in court. She said she would have to pay out of her own pocket while New Energy Economy receives money from donors.

New Energy Economy is an environmental advocacy nonprofit that has intervened in the PNM Integrated Resource Plan case.

“I know in my heart that there is no reason for me to recuse myself,” Lovejoy said.

Campaign donation cited

New Energy Economy’s state Supreme Court filing was based on campaign finances from the primary elections earlier this year.

PNM Resources, which is PNM's parent company, donated money to a political action committee, New Mexicans for Progress, which campaigned for both Jones and Lovejoy.

New Energy Economy argues that New Mexicans for Progress' campaigning during the primary election creates the appearance that the commissioners are biased in favor of PNM.

Lovejoy said she never approached PNM soliciting donations and she was not aware of the political action committee’s campaigning on her behalf until she saw some of the campaign materials distributed in the community.

“I believe 100 percent that I still have the integrity that I’ve always had,” Lovejoy said.

Her campaign finance reports do not show any donations from PNM Resources or New Mexicans for Progress.

Lovejoy said she believes the Integrated Resource Plan case will continue past the end of her term. Lovejoy was defeated by former PRC commissioner Theresa Becenti-Aguilar during the primary elections in June. Becenti-Aguilar is now running unopposed and will likely take the seat in January.

In the meantime, Lovejoy said she expects New Energy Economy will do everything it can to make sure she does not have a voice in major cases like the PNM Integrated Resource Plan.

“I feel I made the right decision,” she said.

Mariel Nanasi, the executive director of New Energy Economy, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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