Regulators put off decision on line to power Facebook site

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators put off a decision on whether to force the state's largest utility to charge Facebook nearly $40 million toward the cost of a new transmission line to power the social media giant's new data center near Albuquerque.

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The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted 5-0 on Wednesday to revise an order that also blocks Public Service Company of New Mexico from charging general ratepayers for the line.

Instead, the utility will be allowed to present its case to the commission the next time the utility files for a rate increase, the Albuquerque Journal reports .

The decision came after the utility asked the commission to reopen the case. It could let Menlo Park, California-based Facebook off the hook for a $39 million bill.

A utility executive previously said the proposed transmission line would serve only Facebook's massive data center in Los Lunas and wholesale customers, not general ratepayers.

The utility now says the facility would benefit all customers.

The line would run from Clines Corners to a new substation in Sandoval County, carrying electricity from a 166-megawatt wind farm being built east of Estancia to provide renewable energy to Facebook.

"I want to protect our ratepayers, but if the line will really transmit electricity from the new wind project and is not just intended for Facebook, then we should look at that new evidence," Commissioner Cynthia Hall told the Journal.