New Mexico Utilities to Invest More than $11 Million in Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Education Programs
PNM can invest $10 million in a suite of electric vehicle programs, with more than $3 million targeting low- and moderate-income families, a promising first step for delivering the economic and health benefits of electric vehicles to all New Mexicans. The Public Regulation Commission also authorized EPE to invest more than $1.2 million in electric vehicle infrastructure and education in its southern New Mexico territory.
SANTA FE, N.M. (Nov. 10, 2021) – Today, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved transportation electrification plans for Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and El Paso Electric (EPE) to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles over the next two years. The plans will help fund charging equipment at single-family and multi-family homes, workplaces, other public places, including 70 fast chargers in PNM’s territory and 16 DCFC chargers in EPE’s territory.
A goal of the plans is to assist closing gaps in areas that do not have charging stations to enable EVs to travel longer distances, for example between Las Cruces and Albuquerque. Low-income customers in both territories will be eligible for incentives that cover the entire cost of installing chargers at customer’s homes. PNM will invest up to $1.5 million to install charging infrastructure for electric transit buses and school buses in underserved communities and $1 million educating customers about electric vehicles. This will include a partnership with a community-based organization to conduct tailored outreach to low- and moderate-income customers. EPE will invest up to almost $150,000 in low-income smart charging, over $100,000 in public transit and customer fleet smart charging, and $250,000 for customer outreach and education about EVs, charging infrastructure, and customer incentives.
Ona Porter, CEO at Prosperity Works said, “We appreciate that today’s Commission decisions strongly affirm our belief that we cannot reach our carbon reduction goals without the inclusion of low-moderate income residents in the deployment of ALL of the new technologies, and equally important, that these populations must be the beneficiaries of the reduced costs and improved health that they offer right alongside of their more affluent neighbors.”
Increasing access to electric vehicles is especially important for low- and moderate-income families because electric vehicles save their owners thousands of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs. For residential customers, the cost of fueling an electric car is roughly equivalent to paying $1 per gallon of gasoline. New Mexico utilities serve low-income, rural areas where the average family currently devotes more than a third of its household income to transportation costs.
“Ditching a gas guzzler for a clean electric vehicle is a lot easier if you can recharge your car at home, so I’m glad the Public Regulation Commission approved a program that can unlock the financial and health benefits of electric vehicles for more low- and moderate-income families in New Mexico,” said Earthjustice senior attorney Sara Gersen, who represented Prosperity Works before the Commission.
Electrifying fleets of city buses, school buses, and other vehicles that burn diesel will provide essential public health benefits. Diesel exhaust is far more toxic than gasoline exhaust and disproportionately burdens low-income communities. PNM estimates that its program could support about 20 charging stations for buses. This is an important step in the right direction but dramatically increased investments will be necessary to electrify all the diesel-burning vehicles in PNM’s territory, which includes the metro Albuquerque area.
“Installing EV charging infrastructure so that average folks can access it is critical to helping our state drive down GHG emissions and harmful pollutants,” said Cara Lynch attorney for CCAE and Prosperity Works. “These programs are a positive first step to helping New Mexico’s families and low-income customers access EV charging. Overall, this can result in meaningful energy savings for families.”
New Mexico cannot meet its climate goals without a widespread transition to electric vehicles. Governor Lujan Grisham established a goal of reducing the state’s climate pollution by 45% by 2030. Transportation is New Mexico’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions — exceeded only by the oil and gas industry. Currently, fewer than 0.2% of vehicles registered in New Mexico are electric.
“The New Mexico PRC’s approval is another indicator that the state is making big strides toward an all-electric transportation future. Lack of access to charging infrastructure continues to be one of the biggest barriers to widespread EV adoption, and the PNM and EPE plans will be critical to increasing availability and encouraging more New Mexicans to go electric,” adds Aaron Kressig, transportation electrification manager at Western Resource Advocates. “It is encouraging to see that the Commission approved of plans that were more ambitious than the utilities originally proposed. They clearly responded to input from stakeholders who urged them to go even further and demonstrates that the New Mexico government understands that ambitious plans are necessary to meet the climate and air quality challenges of our time.”
In July 2021, the New Mexico Environment Department and the City of Albuquerque launched a rulemaking process that will lead to the adoption of standards that require auto manufacturers to sell electric vehicles and low emission vehicles in New Mexico. Increasing sales of electric vehicles will improve public health by helping New Mexico meet air quality standards, while allowing New Mexico to reach our climate goals. These rules are also essential for making more electric vehicles available in the state and creating a market for used electric vehicles.
“This is a big step toward a cleaner, more efficient transportation system for New Mexico,” said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “There’s something for everyone to like in this decision. It will save New Mexicans millions of dollars. At the same time, it will help clean up our air, protect our health and reduce climate change.”
Electrifying passenger vehicles on the trajectory needed to reach New Mexico’s climate goals will save drivers $20 billion through 2050, save utility customers almost $5 billion over the next 30 years in the form of reduced electricity bills, and prevent climate-changing pollution with a social value of $5 billion, according to a report commissioned by SWEEP and NRDC.
The New Mexico Legislature initiated this process in 2019, when it passed House Bill 19-521. The law directs investor-owned utilities to file transportation electrification plans for approval with the Public Regulation Commission on a regular basis.
Prosperity Works builds the capacity of organizations and advocates for policies that generate economic prosperity for all New Mexicans.
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With New Mexico's 2021 Legislative Session underway, Prosperity Works has been advocating in collaboration with the New Mexicans for Fair Lending Coalition for proactive legislative action that centers limited-income (LI) households. We are excited that Senate Bill 66 includes an all-inclusive 36% interest rate cap and strongly support it.
For LI individuals, or those without a developed credit history, the savings offered by employer-based lending models—such as the TrueConnect program with which Prosperity Works partners—and equitable loans can mean the difference between financial security and financial ruin. Loans made at the current interest rate cap of 175% can quickly thrust LI borrowers into an inescapable debt trap.
New Mexico has one of the highest interest rate caps on storefront loans in the country, and more than 85% of high-interest lenders in New Mexico are subsidiaries of large, out-of-state companies. Moreover, triple digit interest rates hit communities of color and members of Tribes and Pueblos the hardest; 65% of lenders in New Mexico are located within 15 miles of Native populations. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being extracted from LI families and leaving our state each year because of predatory lenders.
Reducing the interest rate cap from 175% to an all-inclusive 36% is timelier than ever—as is embracing more equitable lending alternatives, like TrueConnect, for large-scale employers.
Employers across New Mexico have adopted TrueConnect, including:
With no cost or risk to the employer and no credit check for the employee, these payroll-deduction loans of up to $5,000 have helped employees address short-term emergencies and reduce financial stress—and many are offered at far less than 36% APR.
Reducing the interest rate cap to an all-inclusive 36% is an equitable path toward helping ensure the socioeconomic solvency of LI households across New Mexico, especially as we collectively rebuild our state post-COVID.
In the wake of the attempted coup in our nation's Capitol this week, and the ongoing attempts by complicit members of Congress and domestic terrorists to undermine the democratic process amid a global pandemic, state power—forged at the community level—is all the more important.
Like many other states working to counter the pandemic’s social and economic effects, New Mexico is entering a legislative session wherein our values as a state will translate through policy and budgetary decisions. During the 2021 legislative session, Prosperity Works will be advocating in collaboration with the New Mexicans for Fair Lending Coalition to reduce the interest rate cap for short-term loans from 175% to 36%—to pave the way for more equitable lending alternatives to high-interest, predatory storefront lenders.
As Prosperity Works pivots into 2021, we’re reminded—as so many are at the national level—that community-driven people power is the basis for systems change. In the context of COVID, and in adapting to meet the growing needs of our community partners, Prosperity Works will be intentionally repackaging our initiative suite—inclusive of Individual Development Accounts, Child Savings Accounts, Fair Lending Options, and financial capability training and coaching—as we deploy our asset-building resources to reach more limited-income (LI) households statewide.
In adapting and growing our work, we remain committed to elevating, amplifying, and centering community voices. We will continue to work in solidarity with our partners in progress to build the socioeconomic assets of LI households across our state; to close the health and wealth gaps exacerbated by the pandemic; and to keep capital—and talent—in New Mexico communities. This means being explicit about the intersections between race and economic opportunity, and also being proactive in meeting the needs of our neighbors who have historically faced barriers to accessing asset-building resources—especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
Together with our community partners, Prosperity Works will continue to innovate creative solutions to clear the hurdles COVID has placed in our collective path as we work to honor the changemakers New Mexico communities have lost—to incubate intentional, authentic community rebuilding efforts across our state as we, as a nation, move forward to shape a more equitable future.
On the heels of a tumultuous 2020—during which we experienced the culmination of systems-level racial, economic, and environmental inequities being laid bare—the nation is entering 2021 with new federal leadership, in both the White House and Congress.
But as we witness the depth to which the nation’s democratic process is being undermined—both by complicit members within Congress, and by domestic terrorists—we recognize that there is much work to be done to counter the impact of misinformation at all levels of government.
At a time when the country is reeling from disasters, it is incumbent on each of us to advocate for equitable, just outcomes—at both the systems and community levels.
“Today’s events in our nation’s Capitol are unsettling,” said Arellana Cordero, Prosperity Works’ President & CEO. “We’re grateful to all who are advocating for equity and justice, and for those that put themselves in peril to protect our nation through today’s violence. Prosperity Works joins our fellow partners in progress in pursuing unifying, equitable solutions as we all work together to rebuild our communities.”
Prosperity Works remains in solidarity with our neighbors who are put most at risk by these violent acts and proclamations—specifically Black, Indigenous, People of Color households. Our fight for equity and justice continues.
As Prosperity Works pivots into 2021 and assesses community needs, we have identified how we can adapt to meet growing resource requests from our network of statewide, community-embedded partners and reach more rural communities with our asset-building initiatives. To this end, during the first months of 2021, we'll be unveiling a phased approach about how we'll be responding to community needs.
Within the context of COVID-19 and its affiliated economic fallout, we've been consistently reminded of Prosperity Works' founding tenet: navigating life without assets is challenging and unpredictable--and exacerbated by systemic racial inequities. Assets help stabilize families, enhance household health, increase agency, and strengthen communities. With the inextricable linkages between racial and economic inequities laid bare--even more pointedly over the course of 2020--we've recognized that it is incumbent on us as an organization to explicitly name the barriers that prevent limited-income (LI) New Mexico households from achieving socioeconomic prosperity.
As we did when Prosperity Works was founded over 20 years ago, we also hold this guiding truth: prosperity for all New Mexicans cannot be brought to fruition without changing systems, attitudes, and behaviors. And we continue to believe that direct, high-impact investments in hardworking, committed individuals and families are the best investment you can make.
So, as we forecast the work that needs to be done in 2021 to support LI communities, we remain steadfast in our dedication to do so intentionally and authentically--with our proactively innovative, community-centered solutions cast through an intergenerational, intersectional lens that centers racial equity.
Together, we will ensure 2021 is a year where we make concerted headway toward closing the health and wealth gaps in New Mexico--gaps that the pandemic and its economic downturn have widened exponentially. But we will bridge those daunting gulfs together--through innovative, asset-focused solutions that seek to rebuild the identity and cultural anchors communities have lost, and to incubate and cultivate contingents of changemakers galvanized to effect meaningful, lasting, equitable change alongside their neighbors.
Eighteen-year-old Estefania Valencia is fulfilling her dream to attend college—an aspirational goal built upon her strong funding foundation through Prosperity Works’ Prosperity Kids Child Savings Account (CSA) Program.
“The Prosperity Kids program pushed the idea of college no matter what,” said Valencia, “I just had the goal to go to college after enrolling in the program.”
Not only is Valencia making history on a personal front—she will be a first-generation college student—but she also is making Prosperity Works history by being the first to complete the CSA program and withdraw her funds to use for college. The recipient of a Davis Scholarship, Valencia plans to use her Prosperity Kids savings for school supplies, like a computer and other essentials.
Started in 2014, Prosperity Kids combines CSAs with personal, social, and financial support for the whole family, ensuring that children from limited-income New Mexico households make it out of poverty and into postsecondary education, and are equipped with the financial literacy skills and resources they need to craft a successful future. In collaboration with area schools and partner banks and credit unions, Prosperity Works ensures that children have equitable access to the Prosperity Kids program. As one of the first children to enroll in Prosperity Kids through both Washington Middle School and Southwest Capital Bank, Valencia remembers her first trip to Southwest Capital Bank with her Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher and cohort.
“They were all so welcoming and everyone was excited to meet us,” she said. “It felt good having extra support helping me get to college. Opening the account was, like, now I had what I need to plan for college. I could talk about it like it was really happening.”
Research shows that children enrolled in a CSA program are four to six times more likely to attend some form of postsecondary education. Prosperity Kids not only teaches kids about the importance of money management in saving for their respective futures, but the program also requires parents to complete 10 weeks of financial literacy and parent-child development education. This basis in socio-financial literacy encourages household fiscal health and inculcates a money management mentality—an invaluable mindset that will transition with children into adulthood
For Arellana Cordero, Prosperity Works’ President & CEO, Valencia’s withdrawal from Prosperity Kids is deeply personal. A fervent believer in Prosperity Works’ mission of supporting local communities statewide, Cordero—the former Chief Financial Officer at Southwest Capital Bank—brought Prosperity Kids to the bank in 2015. Even more fittingly, Ms.Cordero also attended Washington Middle School, which has always held a special place in her heart.
“I’ve always believed in helping equip people, especially youth, with the tools they need to be financially successful—to lay a strong foundation in financial capability and wellness, on which they can build life goals,” Cordero said. “So, being able to bring the Prosperity Kids Program to both Southwest Capital and Washington Middle School is a full-circle moment for me.”
For Valencia, who plans to major in biology and later attend medical school, her college track also affords her an opportunity to explore her other passions like French culture and dance.
Due to pandemic-related academic schedule restructuration, Valencia, like many college-bound students, will be experiencing a different first semester of college life. Regardless, with her driven attitude and solid financial footing through Prosperity Kids, Valencia is ready to excel and to embrace the opportunities of her next chapter.
“I look forward to a new independence, and living and experiencing college life. There are so many people to meet and a variety of new opportunities.”
6 years in the making, Valencia’s success through Prosperity Kids is the first of many exciting stories Prosperity Works will welcome as program graduates begin to withdraw their funds to help write their next life chapters.
“I am thrilled to have Estefania as the first of many graduates from the Prosperity Kids program. With so many families facing financial insecurity right now, this savings and financial education program is more important than ever to protect and educate the next generation.” Arellana Cordero, CEO of Prosperity Works.
About Prosperity Kids:
Prosperity Works’ Prosperity Kids CSAs are matched college savings accounts for limited-income households. Parents must complete 10 weeks of financial literacy and parent-child development education. Each CSA is opened with a $100 deposit by Southwest Capital Bank, and deposits are matched 1:1—up to $200 per year until they graduate high-school. Depending on the age at which a child enrolls in Prosperity Kids, they have the opportunity to graduate high school with $5,000 or more in savings for postsecondary education.
Do CSAs really work?
Children who enroll in and leverage their CSAs are:
Prosperity Works Staff