ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - New Mexico's largest electric utility filed a request with stateregulators Tuesday to increase rates by an average of 21.2 percentbeginning next year.
Public Service Company of New Mexico said the rate increasewould be implemented over two years if approved by the PublicRegulation Commission.
The company said the phase-in would help ease the impact oncustomers.
PNM has raised rates by 24 percent in the past three years.
The latest proposed increase would raise the average customer'sbill by $10 a month in 2011 and a little over $4 more in 2012, PNMspokeswoman Susan Sponar said Tuesday.
"A rate request is unavoidable," PNM's president and chiefexecutive officer, Pat Vincent-Collawn, said in a news releaseannouncing the filing. "Knowing these are difficult times, we willstay focused on balancing the need for reliability andaffordability, in part through programs to help customers manageenergy bills."
PNM provides electricity to 497,000 customers in New Mexico. Theutility is a subsidiary of PNM Resources, an Albuquerque-basedenergy holding company.
PNM, for the first time, is basing a rate request on theprojected cost of service at the time the new rates would go intoeffect. In the past, rates have been based on figures that are twoyears old or older. The utility said that means by the time newrates go into effect, they're out of date.
Last month, Vincent-Collawn said PNM would seek a largeincrease, but she would not release the amount until it was filed.Sponar said the company had made significant investments thatweren't being recovered by the current rates.
The utility said investments will have totaled more than $575million through next year in improvements to assure the system'sreliability, including expansion of substations and power lines inRio Rancho, Santa Fe, Alamogordo and other areas.
Sponar also has said the 24 percent increase since 2007 cameafter 20 years without electricity rate hikes.
Tuesday's rate request does not include a renewable energyproposal currently pending before the commission to add morerenewable energy sources. Those are required to meet New Mexico'srenewable energy standards, which increase in 2011 to 10 percentfrom the current 6 percent.
Standard & Poors has given PNM Resources the worst creditrating of any utility, PNM officials have said. Such ratingsdetermine how much companies pay for money they borrow forexpansion and improvements.
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