Return to News Exchange Albuquerque Mayor May Seek Bidders for City-Wide Electric Service

Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez announced that he may seek a Request for Proposals from companies to sell power to Albuquerque homes and businesses under a City Charter amendment voters passed in 1989.

The charter amendment provides that the city cannot grant a franchise to company to provide electric service "unless the franchise...has been awarded by competitive bid to the lowest-cost suppliers." Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) has served Albuquerque without a franchise since losing its franchise following passage of the charter amendment. PNM tried unsuccessfully to overturn the provision in 1992, and maintains that the city cannot award contracts for electric service through power lines it doesn't control. PNM owns the transmission and distribution lines.

Chavez told the Albuquerque Journal that soliciting bidders might be a way to force the issue, leaving it up to the winning bidder to petition the Public Utility Commission for an order granting access to PNM's local wires. Other options include condemnation of PNM's property, as the city of Las Cruces has done to El Paso Electric Company's distribution system in Southern New Mexico.