The following are some of the newsworthy stories involving the Attorney General’s Office during the past week.
Friday, June 29, 2012
AG: Certain Bank Letters Not Scams
(ALBUQUERQUE)---NM Attorney General Gary King’s office says concerned citizens are reporting what they believe to be bogus letters from their banks offering to help them avoid mortgage foreclosure---some of the letters are legitimate, however.
One homeowner reports receiving a letter from Bank of America offering to reduce the principal owed to the bank by more than $215,000. The consumer contacted our office to verify that it was legitimate because he has been unable to make a mortgage payment for quite some time and assumed that the letter was either an error or more likely, a scam. The AG’s office was able to confirm that the letter was a legitimate offer from Bank of America, one of five major banks involved in the recent nationwide mortgage foreclosure legal settlement.
“These offer letters stem from that settlement” says Attorney General King. “Our fear is that homeowners who are not responding, thinking the offers are scams, could be missing out on real mortgage foreclosure relief.”
Homeowners who receive such letters should immediately contact their lender to verify the offer. They should also stay away from mortgage help offers that require upfront fees of any kind---such practices are expressly prohibited by law.
Attached is a sample of one of the letters being sent directly to New Mexico consumers by one of the 5 major banks regarding the AG settlement.
AG King Reaction to SCOTUS Immigration Ruling
Monday, June 25, 2012
(SANTA FE)---Attorney General Gary King says today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned parts of Arizona’s immigration law is neither a victory nor a loss for New Mexico.
“New Mexico continues to focus on border security and preventing criminal activity by those found to be here illegally,” says AG King. “Today’s ruling by the Court allows us to concentrate our limited resources to that purpose while leaving the federal government to enforce federal immigration laws.”
Attorney General King appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss the potential effects in New Mexico of a court decision on Arizona’s controversial immigration law. The AG said that while state’s rights are very important to all border states, to the extent that federal and state governments can cooperate on immigration law enforcement, it would further the task of improving immigration policy concerning illegal entry to the United States.
AG King also told Fox News that people illegally enter the state for different reasons and it makes sense to follow federal direction that focuses on those who would do harm to our country and/or engage in criminal activities.
Report from The Attorney General of New Mexico
Monday, June 25, 2012
Renewable Energy for New Mexicans
I support alternative and green and renewable energy and I want utility bills as low as possible for New Mexico families. Therefore, I strongly believe recent claims made by the Coalition for Clean, Affordable Energy in a newspaper guest column are misleading and erroneous in their portrayal of the Attorney General’s position on utility efficiency and renewable programs. Here are the verifiable facts which, unfortunately, do not seem to get in the way of claims made by the CCAE and others.
By law the Attorney General is required to represent residential and small business utility customers before the Public Regulation Commission. We do this in large part by attempting to minimize increases in utility rates and guaranteeing that costs for programs such as efficiency and renewable energy are just and reasonable.
During my term of office the AGO has never opposed a utility efficiency plan. In fact, in the last year I have supported the annual renewable plans of the Public Service Company of New Mexico and the Southwestern Public Service Company. I also supported the implementation by PNM of a rate rider to collect the costs of renewable energy.
What my office has not done, however, is blindly support renewable or efficiency proposals made by a utility or intervenor. When the three investor-owned electricity utilities and various intervenors, including CCAE, agreed to an artificially high rate to be charged customers to make up for utility revenues lost to efficiency programs, I opposed it and appealed the rate to the NM Supreme Court and prevailed – the Court ruling that the rate was neither cost-based nor supported by substantial evidence in the record. The facts show it would have earned at least one utility three times its lost costs.
As Attorney General I have acted as an honest "broker" in renewable cases by protecting consumers from exorbitant costs. Renewable resources may someday supply a substantial portion of a utility’s generation mix, however, neither wind nor solar generated electricity can currently provide reliable energy twenty-four hours a day. And yet the cost of solar energy is currently many times the cost of other fuel resources. Because the cost of renewable energy is decreasing annually, there is every reason to phase it in over time as prices drop – as the Renewable Energy Act provides. This approach was supported by my office when we advocated for legislation in 2007 to increase the percentage of required renewable sources to meet New Mexico energy needs.
While CCAE is not charged with keeping electricity energy affordable nor is it mandated by law to represent all utility consumers, as Attorney General I must seek to balance the interests of various utility consumers in New Mexico while ensuring a reliable electricity supply at reasonable rates. As the attorney for the State of New Mexico, I cannot subscribe to the kind of single issue advocacy expressed by the CCAE.
The CCAE claims also appear to have been intentionally drafted to mislead citizens on my personal record with regard to environmental protection in New Mexico. As a Legislator, I was responsible for the passage of many laws that are protective of our air and water, including; The Mine Reclamation Act, The Solid Waste Act, tire recycling, battery recycling and conversion of the State vehicle fleet to alternative fuels. While Attorney General, my office was responsible for the reversal of an EPA decision to license the Desert Rock Power Plant (a new coal fired generating plant in McKinley County) because it had failed to consider adverse environmental impacts of plant emissions on New Mexico residents.
Personal attacks, such as that utilized by CCAE and others, do not forward the discussion of how New Mexicans can have access to the cost effective, reliable energy supplies necessary to build our future economy while maintaining or improving our air and water quality in any meaningful way. However, I will continue to do my utmost to carry out my office’s statutory mandate and meet the expectation of New Mexico citizens that their Attorney General works to minimize increases in utility rates and ensure that costs for programs such as efficiency and renewable energy are just and reasonable. My agenda is, and always has been, to find a balanced approach that serves the bests interests of New Mexico consumers.