Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MST

Jan 4, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An advocacy group for utility customers urged the New Mexico Supreme Court  to allow state utility regulators more time to vet a proposal to close a major coal-fired power plant and divvy up shutdown costs. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and leading state legislators have urged the state's top court to intervene quickly in utility proceedings to ensure implementation of the so-called Energy Transition Act that puts New Mexico on a mandated path toward zero-carbon electricity by 2045. Mariel Nanasi of the New Energy Economy consumer group wants utility regulators to determine how to fairly divide roughly $360 million in coal-plant shutdown costs between utility investors and consumers.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Services are scheduled Sunday and Monday for Ken Sanchez, a four-term Albuquerque City Council member who died Wednesday at age 63. After visitation at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church on Sunday, Mass will be celebrated Monday at Kiva Auditorium, followed by entombment at Mount Calvary Cemetery. Sanchez had been a councilor since 2005, serving as council president three times during that span. He also served eight yeas as a Bernalillo County commissioner. Cause of death wasn't released, but Mayor Tim Keller has said Sanchez hadn't returned to his council duties since having a "medical emergency" in November. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A nearly three-year effort to redevelop another old motel along historic Route 66 is almost complete. The De Anza Motor Lodge's iconic sign will once again shine after a lighting ceremony on Sunday. The property had fallen into disrepair before being purchased and rebuilt as an upscale apartment complex and corporate stay location. The Albuquerque Journal reports roughly half of the 40 units are occupied, and a three-level entertainment center is expected to open later this month. The De Anza was built in 1939 by a team that included C.G. Wallace, who traded with Zuni Pueblo and amassed artifacts.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Researchers at the University of New Mexico will share in millions of dollars being doled out by the U.S. Energy Department for projects aimed at improving natural gas infrastructure and reducing emissions. The agency awarded nearly $25 million for 16 cost-sharing projects across the country. The New Mexico team is developing sensors that would be capable of distinguishing pipeline methane emissions from other sources. The research comes as the state of New Mexico embarks on crafting new rules to rein in emissions from the oil and gas industry as activity in the Permian Basin continues to break records.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has a new arbiter when it comes to ethical lapses and potential corruption among public employees, contractors and lobbyists. The state Ethics Commission has opened its doors in 2020 to complaints ranging from campaign finances and government purchases as spending surges on infrastructure and efforts to influencing elections. Voters approved the creation of the Ethics Commission in November 2018, passing a constitutional amendment in the wake of a string of corruption scandals that led to jail time for former Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran and former state Sen. Phil Griego.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The number of recreation access permits issued by the New Mexico State Land Office nearly tripled in 2019, and officials say the goal is to keep growing that number. They say they want to identify new recreational areas on state trust land and form more partnerships with hiking, biking, rock climbing and other advocacy groups. Craig Johnson is the agency's first outdoor recreation program manager. As head of the recently launched "Open for Adventure" campaign, he tells The Associated Press that New Mexico's status as an underdog in the outdoor recreation world will end up being one of its draws as other destinations in the U.S. Southwest become more crowded.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man extradited to the United States from Mexico in 2015 to stand trial in a 2008 killing for a drug cartel has been sentenced to life plus 15 years in prison. A state District Court judge in Albuquerque sentenced Jaime Veleta on Friday on his October convictions for first-degree murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and conspiracy. Authorities said Veleta fled to Mexico after kidnapping Danny Baca from his home, killing him and leaving his burned body on a desert mesa sought of Albuquerque. 


ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — A leading challenger to an embattled New Mexico state senator convicted of drunken driving also has a DWI conviction from his younger years. KOB-TV reported Thursday that Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo has challenged state Sen. Richard Martinez for his seat in the Democratic primary. Officials say Martinez was found guilty last month of aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving. Jaramillo says he was charged in 1996 when he was 18 and took responsibility for his actions as a college freshmen.