New Mexico starts the work of hiring a new PRC

After voters said commissioners shouldn’t be elected in 2020, a new process begins

By: - August 2, 2022 4:59 am

The Public Regulation Commission is going from a five-person elected panel to a three-person group appointed by the governor. A nominating committee started work sending recommendations by November. The PRC regulates all utilities in the state. (Photo by Marisa Demarco / SourceNM)

New Mexico put out a help wanted sign for three people to take over as the Public Regulation Commission.

Title: Public regulation commissioner

Start date: January 2023

Pay: TBD

Job Duties: Form new leadership of the agency overseeing regulation of public utilities in the state.

Qualifications: 10 years experience, competence, be independent of the industries regulated by the PRC

In 2020, New Mexico voters gave state leadership the duty to reform how it picks the members of the PRC, the state regulatory agency that oversees everything from sewers, to gas lines, internet and electricity. 

A constitutional amendment changing the PRC from a five-person committee, all elected, to a three-person group appointed by the governor, passed in the 2020 general election with 55% of New Mexicans in support of an agency overhaul.

The new PRC starts work in January. Monday kicked off the process for the first time with the introduction of the people who will sort through candidates and make recommendations to the governor by November. 

New Mexico’s seven-person nominating committee is a mix between energy, legislative and conservation interests. 

Ron Lovato, Brian Egolf, Alonzo Baldonado, Rikki Seguin, Cydney Beadles, William Brancard, Denise Romanas sit on the temporary committee.

Baldonado’s name was floated as someone with interest in chairing the committee but he wasn’t in his seat. Egolf stood in, saying someone present should lead the group and garnered support from his colleagues.

Like a gust, Baldonado hurried into the meeting, saying traffic on La Bajada Hill was down to one lane. His pass north on Interstate 25 into Santa Fe was a delay in another way for the former Republican state representative for Valencia County. 

“Would you like to be secretary?” Egolf asked. 

“Secretary? And you’ll be the chair?” Baldonado questioned. “If that’s the will of the group.”

It was.

Egolf, months away from retirement as state House majority leader, took on another task before leaving office and read the six-meeting schedule the nominating committee will take on to find candidates for the PRC. 

The process is like a civics lesson in government hiring: 

Aug. 15, a discussion of qualifications and expectations for the new PRC.

Sept. 12, discussion on the PRC’s role and setting public comment rules.

The next three meetings will be most impactful in the process, and public comment guidelines that should be handled in the prior meeting should make this easy for anyone to follow.

SourceNM will update with info on live-stream links and info about how to deliver your public comment to keep you informed.

At this point, New Mexico will have recruited its batch of PRC candidates. The potentially new employees of the state will have their applications reviewed during the Oct. 3 meeting. By Oct 18, the commission will have its picks for interviews. On Nov. 7 there will be an update on how the interview process is going.

By Nov. 14, candidates for the regulatory commission will be submitted to Gov.Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The meetings are expected to be held in-person, Egolf said. 

Egolf insisted on transparency in sorting and choosing candidates, reminding the committee members to use the state emails provided to them for the group’s work and not personal or business email.

“Please, do that,” he said. “It’s a lot easier for the records custodian and when you get a request. It will be a lot easier for you to be able to say I have no committee-related materials.”

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Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and his ancestry also includes Jemez and Zuni on the maternal side of his family. He grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Most recently he covered Indigenous affairs with New Mexico In Depth. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.

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