Energy advocacy group questions outside influences in Energy Transition Act
A spokesman for the attorney general's office says Power the Future is spreading false information
FARMINGTON — An energy advocacy group known as Power the Future has been criticizing the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office for having a lawyer whose position is funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the staff.
Power the Future Western States Director Larry Behrens said a Freedom of Information Act request showed that the lawyer was involved in drafting the controversial Energy Transition Act. Power the Future alleges the new law will cause electric rates to increase statewide by requiring more electricity to come from renewable energy sources.
Behrens said it is disturbing that an out-of-state billionaire could possibly be influencing important pieces of legislation that will impact almost every New Mexican, but the New Mexico Attorney General’s office says Power the Future’s claims are inaccurate.
"This industry-funded group is spreading false information — no Office of the Attorney General employee was involved in the drafting or lobbying of Energy Transition Act legislation,” said Matt Baca, spokesman for the AG’s office. “The Office of the Attorney General focuses its efforts on protecting the health, safety, and welfare of New Mexican children and families."
Bloomberg has funded a program through New York University’s environmental law center that places lawyers in the offices of attorneys general. These lawyers file periodic reports with the university. Behrens provided The Daily Times with a copy of one of those reports Power the Future received after filing a request for records.
The periodic report states that the lawyer, Robert Lundin, began working at the New Mexico Attorney General’s office in November 2018 and was assigned to public utility matters related to administrative litigation at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.
The report states that Lundin was tasked with objectively analyzing legislation introduced during the 2019 legislative session. It states that Lundin completed an official analysis of the Energy Transition Act for the attorney general’s office.
Behrens specifically highlighted one paragraph in the report that states: “Mr. Lundin was involved in the on-going process to shut down San Juan Generating Station — a large, coal-fired power plant in New Mexico. He and lead counsel discussed legal strategy with many stakeholders to determine a course of action in regards to initiating a proceeding to retire the plant. The (Public Regulation) Commission then, following the strategy, sua sponte ordered the public utility to abandon the coal plant."
In January, the PRC filed an order requiring the majority owner of the power plant — Public Service Company of New Mexico — to file an application to close the San Juan Generating Station by March 1. That was later placed on hold by the state Supreme Court and the application was not filed July.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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