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KUNM News Update

Santolina Developer Funds Attack Ad, PNM To Add More Solar

Andreas Demmelbauer
Creative Commons License
Solar panels.

Santolina Developer Funded Attack AdThe Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque Journal reports a controversial attack ad criticizing mayoral candidate State Auditor Tim Keller was funded partially by Western Albuquerque Land Holdings which owns Santolina.

The ad, which has been discredited, accuses Keller of protecting sex offenders over children. Governor Susana Martinez signed a measure into law in 2013 that included the provisions Keller voted for.  

Santolina is a huge mixed-use development that must have an agreement with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County water utility. The mayor has a seat on the water utility board.

New Mexico Regulators Consider Utility's Power PlanThe Albuquerque Journal, The Associated Press

New Mexico's largest electric provider wants to add another 50 megawatts of solar energy to its portfolio.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico also wants to boost output from its current wind and geothermal resources as part of a plan to comply with the state's renewable energy standards.

The state Public Regulation Commission wrapped up hearings on the proposal this week.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that one environmental group has taken issue with the plan, saying the utility stacked the deck to gain ownership over the new solar farms rather than considering purchase agreements with independent power producers.

Utility officials and other environmentalists dismissed those arguments, saying the plan was more cost effective.

If approved, the utility would pay Albuquerque-based Affordable Solar to build five small solar farms.

Eastern New Mexico To Drop Out-Of-State TuitionThe Associated Press

Eastern New Mexico University says it's lowering tuition for out-of-state students next year.

The university said Friday that its board of regents approved the drop in cost and that it will take effect in fall 2018.

Currently, out-of-state students pay 203 percent of what in-state students do. That'll be down to 150 percent.

The 2016-2017 tuition cost was roughly $6,000 for in-state students and a little over $15,000 for out-of-state students.

ENMU says it wants students to graduate with as little debt as possible and that it hopes to recruit more students from outside New Mexico.

$9.1M Project To Deliver More Water To Navajo CommunitiesThe Associated Press

Work has started on a $9.1 million project to improve access to water in several Navajo communities.

Navajo President Russell Begaye signed legislation last year to fund dozens of water and sanitation projects across the reservation.

Officials gathered in Greasewood on Friday for a groundbreaking ceremony for one of the projects. It's being funded partly through a $554 million settlement the tribe reached with the federal government over management of natural resources revenue.

Rex Kontz of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority says the project will double the water capacity for several communities, including Ganado, Greasewood, Dilkon and Teesto. A new well and a water filtering plant are planned.

The work is expected to take 18 months.

Other funding sources include federal grants and the tribal utility.

Grant To Fund Construction Of Veterans' Cemetery In GallupThe Associated Press

Gallup is getting its own veterans cemetery after a multi-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich along with Rep. Ben Ray Lujan said Friday that the grant of $6.7 million will fund construction.

The closest veterans' cemetery is in Santa Fe, some 200 miles away.

Lawmakers say a national veterans' cemetery in Gallup will provide more convenient access to 19,000 vets and their families.

The grant will cover 443 pre-placed crypts, 140 in-ground cremation gravesites, 400 columbarium niches, a memorial wall and walkway and other aspects of the cemetery.

It's unclear when construction begins.

Martinez Makes Court Of Appeals AppointmentThe Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed Emil John Kiehne to the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

Martinez announced the appointment Friday.

Kiehne is from Los Lunas and is replacing Judge James Wechsler, who retired.

Kiehne is on the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government board and until now has been a partner at a private firm.

Archaeologists: More Protections Needed For Chaco RegionThe Associated Press

Archaeologists and other researchers are calling for more protections of an expansive area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

In a report released Friday, they say increased oil and gas development in northwestern New Mexico has the potential to destroy parts of the landscape that could provide a better understanding of the ancient civilization that once inhabited the area.

The report comes as federal officials revamp a management plan that will guide development as more companies look to tap the region's shale deposits.

A world heritage site, Chaco and its outlying archaeological remnants have become the focus of the fight over expanded drilling.

Outside park boundaries, scientists say new technology has uncovered indiscernible sections of ancient roads. They also pointed to less tangible features that could be at risk, such as views of distant buttes or mountain peaks.