Water rates increased, electricity may be next

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Water bills in the metro are about to go up and electricity bills may be next. And while that may be bad for your wallet, officials say the reason for the rate increase is good for the environment.

Customers saved so much water during a drought, that it’s actually costing money. And as PNM moves toward clean energy, there will likely be rate increases on electric bills too.

Successful water conservation efforts in the metro have resulted in a 5 percent rate hike beginning July 1.

“We did achieve a remarkable thing last year, essentially reaching our 10 year conservation goal, over the course of a single year,” explained David Morris, of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.

In fact, Morris said on average, each person in the metro saved about 10 gallons a day. Since that much savings wasn’t expected, it created about a $9 million revenue shortfall that a rate hike will help make up for.

“In the long run it’s really good for the community to save that water, so that it’ll be there as a resource going forward into the future,” said Morris.

Paying a little extra for doing some good is the same concept that applies to clean energy in the state. Consumers face higher electricity bills as PNM works to balance the transition to cleaner energy, while keeping the cost as low as possible.

PNM said they’re behind a plan to close part of the San Juan Generating Station in the four corners to ease pollution. Closing two units there would reduce reliance on burning coal but it comes with a price.

PNM officials said that power will be replaced with cleaner resources such as solar power.

But residents won’t see a spike on their electric bills right away. And even though they will on water bills, officials aren’t changing their message when it comes to conservation.

“When you live in a desert community, it’s such a scarce and precious resource,” said Morris.

The average customer will see about a $3 increase on their monthly water bills starting in August. The Water Utility Authority said the Albuquerque area is still paying a lot less than places like Santa Fe and Rio Rancho.

PNM said the soonest customers could see an electricity rate hike is 2016.

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