SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Now more than two years after New Mexico voters approved an overhaul of the state’s utility regulating body, the new Public Regulation Commission (PRC) is up and running. Appointed by the Governor, three new PRC commissioners held their first open meeting Wednesday as they prepare to tackle major decisions involving utility industries that nearly all New Mexicans interact with.

Commissioners Gabriel Aguilera and Patrick O’Connell participated in Wednesday’s meeting. A third commissioner who was just nominated this week, James Ellison sat in on the meeting, but did not vote on commission business as Ellison has not taken an oath of office yet.

Along with electric companies, the PRC regulates natural gas firms, some water and sewer companies, telephone utilities, moving companies and transportation industries. In regulating the state’s utilities, the prior five-member, publicly elected PRC has been a central to decisions surrounding the proposed merger of PNM with Avangrid, and the scheduled shutdown of the San Juan coal-fired powerplant.

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The new PRC’s makeup stands in sharp contrast to what New Mexico constituents have seen in the last few decades. Up until the start of 2023, the PRC had been a five-member board with commissioner selected by voters in five different regions of New Mexico. Each previous commissioner that was elected used to serve a four-year term.

The new PRC has just three members. The board chairman, O’Connell will serve a six year term. Commissioner Aguilera will serve a four-year term, while Ellison is expected to initially serve two-years with the PRC. Only two members of the PRC may be of the same political party under the new rules.

Over the course of its work, the new PRC could face major questions surrounding New Mexico’s utility rate costs, utility ownership and more. The new commission’s next meeting is expected to take place on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 9:30 a.m.