Merrie Lee Soules running for seat on PRC [Silver City Sun-News, N.M. :: ]
(Silver City Sun-News (NM) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) May 20--SILVER CITY -- Merrie Lee Soules visited Silver City Monday afternoon as part of her bid to win the Democratic primary election for the Public Regulation Commission. Soules is running against Sandy Jones in the June 3 primary. The winner will face Republican incumbent Ben Hall in November.
Concern about renewable energy is partially what brought Soules to Silver City on Monday. She wanted to meet with Cissy McAndrews, executive director of Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce.
"I found her to be very interesting with renewable energy, her activities and involvement in the area," Soules said. "I see New Mexico with these amazing resources, renewable energy resources, just waiting for us to harvest them effectively and put to them to work. We should be a leader in the clean and renewable energy field."
Soules grew up in Las Cruces but moved away for college. She received an MBA from Harvard and worked for General Motors for 30 years. She retired from Delphi Corp., a division of GM, in 2007.
"This is the state that I love, what I consider home," Soules said. She returned to Las Cruces 10 years ago.
Soules believes her 20 years of experience at GM as an executive makes her the right person for a seat on the Public Regulation Commission. The PRC regulates utilities, telecommunications, and motor carrier industries. In addition, the PRC promotes public safety through the state fire marshal's office, the firefighter training academy, and the pipeline safety bureau and transportation division.
"The PRC job is a complex regulatory body and I think my background prepares me for these analytical kinds of functions that're very high stakes," Soules said.
Soules said the PRC has a big responsibility in overseeing the power companies, which make decisions that involve spending hundreds of millions of dollars on generating facilities, technology and transmission lines.
"Those things are big, big decisions in what's involved in them and what those implications are for the next 40, 50, 60 years," Soules said.
Soules said she had managed large capital projects and competing projects while she worked at GM, so she feels she has the experience necessary but, she pointed out, she worked in an area that wasn't directly related to industries regulated by the PRC.
"I don't have any of those preconceived expectations or relationships coming out of industry," Soules said. "I'm using public financing, which limits the money available. I don't end up responsible to donors, I owe nobody any favors."
Soules added she meets the new, higher standards of a reform of the PRC passed by New Mexico voters in 2012.
Before the reform, one commissioner, Carol Sloan, was convicted of felony assault in 2010 but refused to quit until the Supreme Court removed her. The agency paid out $840,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against Commissioner David King by a staff member. A third commissioner, Jerome D. Block Jr., pleaded guilty in 2011 to credit card fraud and identity theft.
"I find myself reminding people about reforming the PRC," Soules said. "There was a pattern of commissioners behaving in various ways. A concern the over the ineffectiveness. The reform was over the requirements of qualifications on education and experience of commissioners. So I'm one of those people who really believes in our democratic process. People have to step up to the positions we're electing so voters have a real choice."
Susan Dunlap can be reached at 575-538-5893, ext. 5803.
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