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New Mexico's poor- and middle-class families need to understand that wind and solar energy are neither affordable nor reliable. It would be a good idea for New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to pay attention to this "inconvenient truth" as well.

The fact of the matter is that wind and solar, in direct comparison to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy, are up to 28 times as expensive (according to a Brookings Institution comparison). On top of this increase in cost, you must then add back in the cost of keeping more reliable sources of energy available as an insurance policy for when the wind isn't blowing, the sun isn't shining or when demand for energy spikes.

The best solar technologies can only reach 35 percent availability. This, along with the fact that the technology to store significant amounts of electricity doesn't exist, makes the idea of further reliance on these sources of energy at best unrealistic or at worst purposely misleading.

We all count on our refrigerators to run around the clock, and our lights, heaters, air conditioners, microwaves and televisions to turn on at will. Please understand that renewable energy sources cannot cover this demand. It is therefore impossible to replace reliable sources of energy without experiencing power outages.

Lights, televisions and microwaves are conveniences that we take for granted; but our refrigerators, air conditioners and heaters are necessities that support life. Who can afford to replace the food in their refrigerator every time the wind doesn't blow and sun doesn't shine?

We can always add more outrageously expensive renewable energy to the portfolio, but we absolutely cannot shut down "on demand" power plants. Unfortunately, the loudest voices are those that are pushing unreliable and unaffordable energy no matter the cost or consequences.

The upcoming decision (to accept or deny) Public Service Company of New Mexico's restructuring agreement must take these facts into consideration, not just for the immediate future but also for long term consequences. Thankfully our Public Regulation Commission commissioners have been taking this responsibility seriously despite all of the misinformation, unreasonable demands and threats.

Even with this Environmental Protection Agency mandated agreement in place, ratepayers could see an increase of almost 7 percent; but if PNM were to have to shut down all four units at the San Juan Generating Station, ratepayers would see an initial increase of 14 percent the first year. Future rates would increase every time that PNM is forced to bring online more wind or solar power.

The cost and consequences are too high to shut down dependable power sources when the technology to replace them doesn't exist.

Montoya, Strickler, Sharer and Neville are from Farmington. Scott is from Hobbs and Townsend is from Artesia. All are members of the Republican Party.

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