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Colorado-based electric firm votes to raise rates on New Mexicans

Over 800,000 New Mexicans will face price hikes in their electric bills after a Colorado-based company and its 44 local co-ops voted 43-1 to raise the rates by 4.5 percent.

Tri-State, which services 1.5 million customers in four states and covers some 200,000 square miles, generates the electricity, while its 44 cooperatives purchase the electricity in bulk for more competitive rates. Twelve of the cooperatives are based in New Mexico.

Kit Carson Electric Co-op, the lone dissenting vote, plans to protest the price increase with the Public Regulation Commission. However, in order for PRC to review a rate hike, two other co-ops must file a protest. Tri-State, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, is raising rates for the first time in three years; a spokesperson for Kit Carson framed the frequency differently, saying on Monday this will be the seventh rate hike in eleven years.

The Taos-based co-op operates in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba counties. The majority of the customers serviced by the private non-profit group live in PRC District 3, which is technically without a representative following Commissioner Jerome D. Block stepping down from office after months of inquiry into his illegal use of public funds. He pleaded guilty to two counts in late September.

Gov. Susana Martinez will announce a replacement member soon. The rate hikes are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

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