The public will have its chance to weigh on a controversial natural gas storage facility proposal for Rio Rancho. At the Bernalillo County Commission meeting on Oct. 23, public members spoke out against building the New Mexico Gas Company plant that would be built near Albuquerque neighborhoods and schools. The Commission voted 4-1 to oppose it.

Now, this issue goes before the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to decide whether to grant NMGC a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.  

Should the state regulators choose to approve the application, a new liquified natural gas storage facility will be built on the outskirts of Rio Rancho on a 20-acre plot of land. New Mexico Gas Company says that a liquified natural gas storage facility would provide a reliable supply for customers and a buffer from price volatility related to things outside of the utility’s control.

However, the proposed facility could also lead to an increase in customer bills of approximately 3.2 percent, or $3.13 for the average gas utility customer, according to the application. NMGCO says the facility will cost $180 million to build. 

The first meeting is on November 20 in the Sandoval County Commission Chambers in Bernalillo. That hearing will be the last opportunity for public input. Public comments at this meeting will inform the PRC in addition to the Hearing Examiners recommendations as they make their final decision for or against the gas company’s proposal to build the LNG plant. 

The hearing on December 4 is the official legal proceeding in which the Hearing Examiners will hear from all expert witnesses and the lawyers for each party that has legally intervened in the case and they will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. The public can watch these hearings on YouTube but cannot participate.

After that hearing the Hearing Examiner will recommend a decision to the PRC, but they are free to accept, reject, or modify the proposal regardless of what the Hearing Examiner recommends.

Public comment at the PRC can be made in person or via zoom at bi-weekly open meetings that begin at 10:00AM. Comments are usually scheduled at the start of the meeting.

Those wishing to speak at the public hearing with the Public Regulations Commission have to register by emailing or calling 505-490-7910. The public comment will be conducted via zoom and telephone. It will be streamed on YouTube through the PRC channel.

Tierna Unruh-Enos

Tierna Unruh-Enos has been a multi-media journalist in New Mexico for over 20 years, and holds a Masters Degree in Documentary Journalism. She is the publisher of The Paper., The Corrales Comment and the Sandoval Signpost

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