Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Jul 3, 2019

Xcel Energy seeks rate hike for New Mexico customersROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Xcel Energy is asking New Mexico regulators to approve a rate increase so the utility can recover investments in power plants, transmission lines and other infrastructure.The company filed its application with the Public Regulation Commission this week.The utility has invested more than $1.6 billion in the regional power grid since the latter part of 2017. Xcel officials say the investments are helping sustain a booming economy in eastern New Mexico.If approved, residential customer bills would increase by about $7.80 starting in mid-2020.Xcel says natural gas will continue to be part of its portfolio as fuel costs have hit historic lows.Wind turbines make up about 20% of the supply. The utility says the Sagamore Wind Project near Portales is expected to be completed next year.


New Mexico health officials warn about mosquito season(Information from: KOB-TV, http://www.kob.com)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials are predicting one of the worst mosquito seasons in decades thanks to wetter weather earlier this year.KOB-TV reports health officials believe the mosquito population and the threat of West Nile Virus are on the rise as monsoon season approaches.Mark DiMenna of the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department says the city is preparing for a bad mosquito season which the likes they haven't seen in 15 years.Standing water along the arroyos, ditches, wetlands and even the side of the road are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.New Mexico's largest city uses larval control through water management and source reduction and with the use of environmentally friendly, EPA-approved chemicals.___


Facebook posts put Border Patrol on defensive at rough timeSAN DIEGO (AP) — A secret Facebook group for Border Patrol agents that included sexually explicit posts has put the agency on the defensive.One member says it was a forum for current and former agents to swap stories and vent. The former agent likened it to a bar where agents would gather after work. He says any agent active on Facebook would have likely received an invitation to join.The agent, who retired last year in San Diego, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he feared a public backlash.The Facebook group included sexual posts about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and insensitive comments about recent deaths of immigrants in custody. Members also questioned the authenticity of a recent photo of a father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande.___Associated Press Writer Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.NIKE-FLAG SHOE-NEW MEXICO GOVERNORNew Mexico governor reaches out to Nike amid Arizona flapSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has reached out to Nike to "explore whether there's a potential fit" after the governor in neighboring Arizona pulled funding amid a flap about an American flag-themed shoe.Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said Tuesday the Democratic governor contacted Nike because she wants the jobs in New Mexico that would go to a planned $185 million factory in Goodyear, Arizona.It's not clear whether the move by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey would derail Nike's plans for the Arizona factor.The Wall Street Journal reported Nike pulled the colonial-era American flag shoe after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained.Stelnicki says New Mexico in recent months has attracted employers like Netflix and NBC Universal. He says Nike would find a friendly business climate in the state.


Government photos show detained migrants pleading for helpHOUSTON (AP) — A report from government auditors includes images of people penned into overcrowded Border Patrol facilities, including one man pressing a cardboard sign to a cell window with the word "help."The report released Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General warns that facilities in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley face "serious overcrowding" and require "immediate attention."In one photo, women and children can be seen sleeping on the floor with only Mylar blankets for cover. Several people are wearing surgical masks.In another, the auditors say 88 men were being held in a cell with a capacity of 41.DHS has blamed the surge of families crossing the border for straining its capacity. But reports of filthy conditions in some facilities have sparked outrage.BuzzFeed first reported on a draft version of the report.


Judge blocks Trump policy keeping asylum seekers locked upSEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge in Seattle has blocked a Trump administration policy that would keep thousands of asylum seekers locked up while they pursue their cases.U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled Tuesday that people who are detained after entering the country to seek protection are entitled to bond hearings. Attorney General William Barr announced in April that the government would no longer offer such hearings, but instead keep them in custody. It was part of the administration's efforts to deter a surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.Immigrant rights advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project sued to block the policy, which was due to take effect July 15.


Albuquerque driver charged in Uber passenger's deathALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a driver in the St. Patrick's Day shooting death of an Uber passenger in Albuquerque.Court records show Bernalillo County prosecutors charged Clayton Benedict on Monday afternoon — more than three months after the shooting death of 27-year-old James Porter occurred.A spokesman for the district attorney did not immediately respond to a message seeking further explanation on timing of the charges.A voicemail left at the local public defenders' office seeking comment on Benedict's behalf was not immediately returned Tuesday.Authorities say Benedict opened fire after he picked up Porter and a friend, and an argument broke out along Interstate 25.Ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft have policies that prohibit the presence of weapons inside vehicles when they are used for transporting clients.


US underground nuclear waste dump receives 12,500th shipmentCARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — The federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in New Mexico has received its 12,500th shipment since operations began two decades ago.The U.S. Energy Department made the announcement Tuesday, saying the shipment arrived at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant just before midnight on June 27.The shipment originated at Idaho National Laboratory.The repository is licensed to take Cold War-era waste generated by decades of bomb-making and defense-related nuclear research. The waste includes gloves, clothing, tools and other materials contaminated with radioactive elements.In all, more than 178,500 containers have been trucked over 14.9 million miles (24 million kilometers) to the repository from sites around the country since 1999. The waste is entombed in disposal rooms carved out of an ancient salt formation about half a mile (0.8 kilometers) down.