Many homes and businesses across New Mexico suffered a power outage Sunday night. Outages were reported in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Peralta, Isleta, Gallup, Los Lunas and Valencia County, affecting 135,435 customers on 81 substations and lasting between seconds for some, and over an hour for others. Traffic signals were affected. The Albuquerque Fire Department says a direct lightning strike on a PNM transfer station at Ouray and Unser some time after just 7:30pm Sunday night caused the outage. The resulting fire—which burned some brush and bushes near the station—was quickly contained by emergency workers. But it took until nearly 11pm before power was completely restored by PNM, who say the lightning strike knocked out a third of their power system. Police confirmed that a motorcyclist in Santa Fe was killed when struck at an intersection by a driver who failed to stop at the flashing lights.
HSD Ordered to Stop Collecting SNAP Overpayments
The US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services told the state Human Services Department to stop pursuing payments from beneficiaries of incorrectly managed food aid who had received more benefits than they were eligible for. In a July 25 letter to the USDA, HSD Secretary Brent Earnest says that his department will no longer attempt to collect payments from those who have had a claim filed against them that “overlaps with a three-month certification process.” The process he refers to is the practice of giving SNAP recipients three months worth of benefits before eligibility can be determined. Earnest says the practice is the resultant attempt to comply with a 2014 federal court order that kept the department from denying benefits to any applications due to procedural errors. However, in a June letter to Earnest, USDA FNS Southwest Administrator William Ludwig said these practices were in violation of federal law.
Gary Johnson Gains N.M. GOP Supporters
Former Governor and Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson is hosting a rally in Albuquerque on August 11, where he will be met by many high-profile New Mexican Republicans who have publicly endorsed his campaign. Included in the list of state supporters—reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican—are State Senator Lisa Torraco; former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White; former Corrections Department spokesman Gerges Scott and Blair Dunn, an Albuquerque lawyer who is running for the state senate. Sandoval County Sheriff Doug Wood, a Republican, has also been posting pro-Johnson tweets on his Twitter feed, although he hasn't publicly endorsed the candidate.