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Dirty dealing in net billing rule

A new law that would have allowed New Mexico homes to generate their own alternative energy was suspended shortly after it was enacted at the end of December. State regulators had issued a ruling that allowed net billing for customers with their own power sources of up to 1 MW. Net billing allows customers who generate their own electricity from renewables to run their meters backwards when output exceeds demand, thereby offsetting the excess power against buying it from the grid at retail rates. Members of a new state regulatory board, which came into existence January 1, suspended the rule without any public discussion on January 12 and referred the matter for further study. The suspension was a victory for utilities, who want customers to be allowed to operate systems with a capacity of only 10 kW. "The whole thing stinks to me," says David Bacon of the non profit organisation Southwest Energy Institute in Santa Fe. "It was so badly handled and under-handed." Officials of one of the state utilities, PNM, insist, however, that they support renewables. They say plant size should be limited to exclude industrial users and that types of energy generated should be restricted to wind and solar.

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