July 1, 2001
L.A. Loves a Loophole
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N.M. Rejects Tariffs for LDC Nonutility Services
The New Mexico Public Utility Commission (PUC) has rejected a request by PNM Gas Services, a division of Public Service Co. of New Mexico and a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to implement two new experimental "optional utility services": 1) a Food Service Maintenance Program (maintenance and repair on commercial equipment), and 2) an Energyguard Bill Payment Protection Plan (insurance). (The company later withdrew the Energyguard portion of its application, prior to the PUC's ruling.)
The PUC concluded that it was inappropriate to treat "these utility-related nonutility services as tariffed utility services." In rejecting the proposal, it cited concerns about: 1) pricing, 2) the possible effect on core ratepayers, 3) potential liabilities, 4) antitrust issues, and 5) problems with public access to program records and cost information. It directed the LDC to file for approval under the established rules for diversification activities by public utilities. Re PNM Gas Services, a division of Public Service Co. of New Mexico, Case No. 2655, May 30, 1996 (N.M.P.U.C.).
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