Local news in brief, Dec. 12, 2012

December 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

Feds recommend interlocks for convicted drunken drivers

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended Tuesday that all first-offender alcohol-impaired drivers be required to install ignition interlocks on their personal vehicles.

Currently, 17 states, including New Mexico, require interlocks for first-time offenders.

“The first step to address the number one killer on our roadways is to do what is proven to be effective — use interlocks for DWI offenders,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman in a news release.

New Mexico’s law was a model for other states, and today it has one of the highest rates of interlock installations per capita in the country. It passed its first interlock law in 1999 and since 2005 has required all convicted drunken drivers to install them, if they want to drive legally.

Richard Roth, executive director of Impact DWI and an ignition interlock advocate in Santa Fe, said the NTSB statement is an example of one more agency getting behind the statistics showing that interlocks, which prevent someone from starting their car while impaired, “are much more effective than hard [license] revocation.”

Reward increased in Abiquiú Lake shooting

Federal agencies are now offering $55,000 for information about a 2007 shooting of an Army Corps of Engineers park ranger at Abiquiú Lake.

On Dec. 1, 2007, ranger Alfred J. Chavez noticed a broken lock and chain on the gate of a corps-owned pump house at the lake and saw two men leaving the pump house. One pulled out a revolver and fired two shots at Chavez, according to the FBI. One bullet struck him above the right knee.

The men fled in a 1990s white, two-door Ford F-250 with tinted windows and still have not been caught. Chavez lived.

The FBI is offering $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the two men involved in the shooting. The Army Corps of Engineers is offering another $30,000.

Police describe both suspects as white or Hispanic males. At the time of the shooting, one was in his early to mid-20s, 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing about 140 pounds, with black hair and a tattoo on the side of his neck. The other suspect was described as being in his late teens to early 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing about 200 pounds. He had short, light-brown hair and a moustache, with a colored tattoo on at least one forearm.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call the Albuquerque FBI at 505-889-1300 or send a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov.

Alcohol sales rules win support

At least three Santa Fe city councilors are now backing a plan to stiffen regulations about alcohol sales along Airport Road.

A proposal for an Airport Road overlay ordinance has been making its way through the city review process, earning approval last week by the Planning Commission and on Tuesday from the advisory Business and Quality of Life Committee.

The rules would establish a boundary for properties that abut the entire length of Airport Road, setting prohibitions on new alcohol-sales establishments near existing licensees and regulating alcohol advertisements on storefronts along the commercial corridor. The ordinance also would ban the sale of “miniatures,” or single-serve liquor bottles. And it would require future establishments to segregate alcohol sales into a separate area of the business, with a separate cash register.

The measure also is aimed at creating better design standards and offering incentives in the form of fee waivers for businesses such as doctors’ offices and grocery stores that agree to locate there.

Councilors Chris Rivera and Rebecca Wurzburger said Tuesday that they will sign on as sponsors of the measure introduced by Councilor Carmichael Dominguez. The measure is set for several more hearings before a possible final vote by the full City Council as early as Jan. 9.

Agencies alter plan for wild-horse roundups in N.M.

The number of wild horses the Bureau of Land Management intends to round up from the Jicarilla Wild Horse Territory in northwestern New Mexico has been reduced from 91 to 43 horses because neither the BLM nor the Carson National Forest has room to hold all the animals pending adoption. The agencies are considering using a helicopter to gather the horses.

The bait-trapping gather of mustangs in the Jarita Mesa Wild Horse Territory in New Mexico on the Carson National Forest has been canceled because the animals are currently in good condition. Range managers determine gathers yearly based on the size of herds, the health of the range lands and the overall physical condition of the horses.

Meanwhile, the Humane Society is calling on the BLM nationally to implement an animal protection plan to better protect horses during the gathers. Information is available at www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2011/07/wild_horse_gathers_report_071311.html.

PRC approves two PNM renewable-energy plans

The Public Regulation Commission unanimously approved changes to Public Service Company of New Mexico’s Sky Blue program, which lets customers voluntarily pay a little more for renewable energy from wind. The new program will allow PNM to offer customers renewable energy supplied by solar and wind.

Under the current Sky Blue program, customers pay an additional 0.4 cents per kilowatt-hour for renewable energy. Under the new program, customers will pay an extra 1.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Sky Blue will add 1.5 megawatts of solar power to supply the program.

The commission also unanimously approved PNM’s plan for adding more renewable energy to the company’s power mix. The company plans to purchase 10 megawatts of geothermal power by 2014 from a new facility near Lordsburg.

PNM also plans to add 20 more megawatts of solar energy, bringing its total utility owned solar capacity to 42.5 megawatts. The two additions can power 17,400 homes, according to PNM.

The New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers opposed the PNM renewable-energy procurement plan as too expensive.

The New Mexican

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