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New Mexico Energy Company Extends Program

March 21, 2011--In response to the extreme cold that blanketed New Mexico in early February, PNM is making its PNM Good Neighbor Fund assistance available to more customers by raising the annual income a household can have and still be eligible for help.

"One of the coldest winter storms in history could push up electric bills and did cause other problems like pipes bursting. In the more than 25 years the fund has been available, I can't think of a time when our help was needed more," said Diane Harrison Ogawa, PNM community relations director.

Through the fund, PNM customers who are income-eligible or experiencing extreme financial hardship can get help once a year to pay past-due electric bills. Last year, PNM provided a total of $807,220 to help 6,486 families throughout New Mexico, thanks to donations from PNM customers and shareholders. The fund provides assistance toward a past-due electric bill up to $140. The average PNM bill is $62 a month.

PNM has raised the qualifications for total household income from 150 percent of the federal poverty level, the criteria used for LIHEAP, to 200 percent. The expanded guidelines will be in effect from March 1 through May. Ogawa said it is difficult to know how many more customers PNM will be able to reach but she believes the need is there. She said electric use for a few days during the coldest weather was nearly 25 percent higher than normal.

In addition to the PNM Good Neighbor Fund, the company also offers "Reduce Your Use" grants to help nonprofit organizations lower energy bills and energy efficiency rebate programs for residential and business customers.

For more information and a list of Salvation Army locations in PNM's service territory, visit PNM.com  or call (888) DIAL PNM (342-5766).

Source: NM newspapers