September 20, 2022

Group accuses PNM, AVANGRID of misleading the public

An environment and consumer protection advocacy group said the Public Service Company of New Mexico and AVANGRID engaged in an ad campaign to mislead the public.

New Energy Economy filed a motion to show cause with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on Friday.

In a press release, the group stated that the order to show cause comes as a result of emails from confused New Mexico residents who have seen advertisements that make it look as if PNM and AVANGRID are a single company.

The PRC rejected an application for the two entities to merge last year, though that decision has been appealed to the state Supreme Court.

NEE has asked the PRC to investigate what it terms as a “deceptive and misleading co-branding strategy” that it alleges PNM and AVANGRID are engaging in because “they believe that the PRC’s decision is no more than a small pothole on the way to the merger that they are hell-bent on accomplishing.”

“When PNM CFO Don Tarry was deposed in another case, he accidentally referred to the merger as ‘delayed’ rather than its actual status – denied, because the PRC that we elected determined that it would not serve the public interest,” NEE Executive Director Mariel Nanasi said in a press release. “PNM and Avangrid have deliberately set out to mislead and deceive the people of New Mexico because they do not believe that the law applies to them, they do not respect the will of regulators who would be responsible to govern their actions in our state, and they certainly do not respect the people of New Mexico.”

Nanasi said the PR campaign not only violates the PRC’s order denying the merger but also violates the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act.

“Avangrid Renewables has been doing business and supporting local communities in the state for several years and AVANGRID is committed to seeing New Mexico succeed,” Joanie Griffin, a spokesperson for Avangrid, said in an email. “The sponsorships we’ve engaged in with PNM reflect our goal to help businesses, communities and individuals thrive.”

Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary of AVANGRID has several wind farms in New Mexico including the La Joya and El Cabo wind farms. 

“PNM teamed up with AVANGRID to inform customers how to save money on their electric bills during a time of record sustained summer heat and rising inflation,” PNM spokesperson Raymond Sandoval said in an email. “PNM also partnered with AVANGRID to sponsor events and non-profits. We are proud to work with a business such as AVANGRID on community activities that benefit New Mexicans and New Mexico.”