Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Hysterical Mailer in MeanMesa's Gas Bill

MeanMesa watched in horror -- along with most other New Mexicans -- as the state wide natural gas catastrophe unfolded last week.  You know, last week when New Mexico temperatures had plunged to a 40 year, record low.  This posting might concern some part of climate change, but it doesn't.  

The entire focus of this posting concerns an innocuous mailer which was added by NM Gas Company to MeanMesa's monthly bill. Naturally, after the natural gas service disaster, we were interesting to see what the company was planning to do about its public image train wreck.

First of all, the mailer:(the exact text of the mailer is reproduced below)

2011 Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) Public Advisory

New Mexico Gas Company invites the public to participate in its 2011 natural gas service Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) Public Advisory process.  Through this process, New Mexico Gas Company will provide information on load forecasts, evaluation of existing gas supply and consumer demand, identification of resource options, examination of price volatility and general attributes of potential resources, and modeling and risk assumptions leading to the development of a cost effective portfolio of gas utility resources.  New Mexico Gas Company will file its IRP with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission by March 10, 2012.

The IRP process includes a series of public workshop-style meetings and provides an opportunity to consider input fromhe public.  Anyone interested in participating in New Mexico Gas Company's IRP Public Advisory process should call New Mexico Gas Company at (505) 697-3833.  Information on the first meeting is below.

Time:  9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Date:  March 8, 2011

Location:  Dekker/Perich/Sabatini

7601 Jefferson NE, Suite 100

Albuquerque, NM 87109

A posting of this notice and future information about New Mexico Gas Company's IRP public advisory meetings can be found at

Now, having shared New Mexico Gas Company's mailer, MeanMesa finds itself also obliged to "flesh out" a couple of the things we see in its content.  Of course, we immediately wondered who "Dekker/Perich/Sabatini" might be and what general service could such a firm provide to New Mexico Gas Company with respect to its IRP Process?

Well, a quick "Googling Episode" brought us directly to the Dekker/Perich/Sabatini web page.  Although the string of well lubricated conditionals appearing in the mailer's first full sentence suggested, at once or even sooner, that this was a law firm, this turns out not to be the case.  In fact, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini is actually a design and planning consulting firm with a robust portfolio of completed projects in the Albuquerque area.

An overview of the firm from their site:  (visit  here )


A Dekker/Perich/Sabatini Project: The PMG Medical Offices in Rio Rancho, NM


Dekker/Perich/Sabatini (D/P/S) is an award-winning design firm with expertise in architecture, interiors, planning, structural engineering, and landscape architecture. D/P/S is a regional leader in design excellence and sustainability, with a 50-year portfolio of education, healthcare, commercial, civic and mixed use projects.

Our collaborative process, where the creative team includes the client, results in the development of functional, comfortable and stimulating designs. Offices in Albuquerque, NM; Las Vegas, NV; and Amarillo, TX.

Planning & Urban Design

The Planning group provides a wide range of planning and design services, from conceptual land use plans to design guidelines to municipal submittals and approvals. We excel at providing integrated design and planning solutions that are market-driven and sustainable. Projects range from large-scale master planned communities to small in-fill tracts.

Our group utilizes the design expertise of the firm and a collaborative approach to maximize development opportunities for the client. With our integrated team of planners, landscape architects, and architects, we can generate initial design concepts and take projects through to construction documents. As with other practice groups in the firm, the Planning group has LEED-accredited professionals that look at early, upfront opportunities to incorporate sustainability into the overall plan for a project. We cover the spectrum of residential, mixed-use, commercial, and industrial projects.

So -- and this remains an unanswered question for this posting -- what is the connection?  What is Dekker/Perich/Sabatini (DPS), a design and planning consultant, providing to New Mexico Gas Company? 

A clue might emerge from an astonishing coincidence, you know, from some place where we might least expect it.  It turns out that New Mexico Gas Company, just like the old owner, PNM, will apparently be submitting a rate increase request to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.  Here's as much of the story as there is at the moment, courtesy of KRQE, Channel 13 News, Albuquerque.  (read the article here)

NM Gas Co. to ask for rate hike?

Just who is behind NM Gas Co.

Updated: Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011, 7:13 AM MST
Published : Tuesday, 08 Feb 2011, 10:05 PM MST
ALBUQUERQUE, NM {KRQE} - It seems like really bad timing from a P.R. standpoint, but New Mexico Gas Company could ask to raise your rates this year.
However, when News 13 asked the gas company some hard questions about its profits and plans for a rate hike, we got the cold-shoulder.

Continental Energy Systems bought PNM's gas division for $620M in 2008.

New Mexico Gas Company serves about three quarters of the people in the state, and this could be a big year for the company. This is the first year New Mexico Gas Company will be able to ask the public regulation commission for a rate hike.

“I had heard they were going to (request a rate increase). I have to imagine they are re-thinking the timing, and how they are going to do it,” Jason Marks with the Public Regulation Commission said.

Marks said New Mexico Gas Company had to wait because it was part of the deal when it bought out PNM's gas division in 2008.

“The operators of the gas company agreed to some conditions. One of those conditions was they would not ask for a rate increase for three years,” Marks said.

Toward the end of its run in the gas business, PNM was asking for rate increases every year. New Mexico Gas Company claimed it would be more efficient and could do without a rate hike for the first three years. So if it is running the gas business more efficiently, just how much is the company pulling in? The company is private, so it wouldn't tell us.

Marks said, “This was a first for New Mexico to have a large utility that was not publicly traded.”

Filings show PNM's gas division made $30M in profit in 2007.

As for who's behind New Mexico Gas Company? Turns out it isn't your normal business.

It's owned by Continental Energy Systems, which operates gas companies in Michigan and Alaska, and is based in Michigan.

“But Continental itself is owned by another company named Lindsey Goldberg,” Marks said.

That's a Wall Street equity firm.

Marks said the PRC took steps to ensure that the equity firm had enough money in the bank to handle any crisis the company might encounter, such as the gas outage we are experiencing.

If and when New Mexico Gas Company files for a rate hike with the PRC, it will have to open up its books to try to justify that request.

The PRC could be a tough audience; the commission has already said it's investigating this prolonged gas outage. 

MeanMesa could add a few unfounded snide remarks about New Mexico Gas Company's profits reporting not being available because it is a privately owned company, but we will all know more about these and other aspects of the company as the PRC handles its rate request.


Thanks for visiting and stay tuned.

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