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A consortium of New Mexico organizations has petitioned the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to force state utilities to reduce their carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions by 3% per year.

According to New Mexico-based New Energy Economy, more than 30 New Mexico organizations, representing business, consumer, Native American, environmental, health and other interests, are urging the PRC to establish an optional clean energy standard (CES) for the state's electric utilities.

"Utilities today are facing unprecedented risks associated with pollution from their power plants," says Steve Michel, chief counsel for Western Resource Advocates’ energy program, adding that regional haze, mercury pollution, climate change and ground-water contamination from coal ash disposal are only some of the impacts from conventional electricity production that utilities are required to address.

Michel says the proposed CES allows utilities to avoid these costs through a reasonable and manageable path toward clean energy development.

He says the proposed CES not only provides a mechanism to address risk in a manner and timeframe that protects both utility customers and shareholders, but also accomplishes its important clean air policy objectives with a market-based, low-cost mechanism.

In its petition, the New Mexico group says its proposed CES uses a system that provides credits for electricity production based upon how much less than 1,000 metric tons of CO2 per gigawatt-hour it emits. Credits are then retired pursuant to an algebraic formula that causes 3% annual CO2 emission reductions from a 2008-2010 average annual baseline. Those reductions continue until 2035, after which the CO2 emissions are to remain constant, according to the petition.

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