State regulators allow utility companies to recoup the costs of increasing electricity capacity from renewable and nonrenewable sources -- whether that's from adding new wind farms or new electric lines. "PNM is asking to start charging customers once renewable energy plans are approved by state regulators instead of waiting," she said.
"This mechanism lets us adjust bills as we go, rather than waiting to add these costs after a rate case a few years down the road," she said. "In the end, it's cheaper for customers and synchs with the state's renewable energy act.
State regulators plan to hold hearings on the rate rider beginning May 14.
Customers are likely to start paying an extra $1.40 a month on average by August for renewable energy capacity added in 2011 and 2012. Total costs for new and existing renewable energy in 2013 would be about $19.7 million, according to PNM.
PNM also is required to file an energy efficiency plan, which it plans to do later this year. By 2014, the company is required to help customers reach an equivalent energy savings of 411 kilowatt-hours.
Sponar said that currently the company's energy savings program has helped customers save about 192 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, the amount of electricity 26,600 homes use in a year. Sponar said those energy savings also meant 37,382 fewer tons of greenhouse gas emissions and water savings of 23 million gallons.
Among ways utilities help customers save energy are offering rebates on energy-efficient appliances and deals on compact fluorescent bulbs.