PRC rejects PNM/Avangrid merger

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission essentially denied the merger between Avangrid and Public Service Company of New Mexico on Wednesday.. The commissioners voted unanimously on Wednesday to reject the stipulated agreement, following a recommendation from the PRC hearing examiner that the potential risks to customers outweigh the benefits. “This whole deal to me kind […]

PRC rejects PNM/Avangrid merger

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission essentially denied the merger between Avangrid and Public Service Company of New Mexico on Wednesday..

The commissioners voted unanimously on Wednesday to reject the stipulated agreement, following a recommendation from the PRC hearing examiner that the potential risks to customers outweigh the benefits.

“This whole deal to me kind of boils down to promises versus actual performance,” Commission Chairman Stephen Fischmann said, highlighting Avangrid’s past performance in New England where it owns several utilities and has faced more than $60 million in fines from regulators.

PNM and Avangrid promoted the merger as an opportunity to transition faster away from fossil fuels through access to Avangrid’s better credit ratings as well as benefits associated with Avangrid’s scale. Avangrid’s large size could lead to lower costs for equipment because the company would be able to buy in bulk.

But several commissioners said the merger is not the way to approach the transition. The commissioners expressed concerns that the merger could lead to higher rates for customers and decreased reliability. While the rate increases would require approval from the commission, the PRC had concerns that if the merger was approved PNM could favor Avangrid resources during the procurement process, which could lead to higher rates.

Related: PRC commissioners have concerns over Avangrid/PNM merger, as companies defend

Executives with Avangrid’s parent company, Iberdrola, are part of a criminal investigation in Spain, and that also weighed into the decision to reject the merger.

The merger proposal did include a variety of benefits for New Mexico, including funding for economic development and a commitment to create 150 jobs in the state.

“I am saddened by this Commission’s decision to reject the agreement reached by the parties. We will continue to evaluate any next steps that could allow us to bring the positive benefits to the people we serve,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM’s chairwoman, CEO and president, in a statement.

In a statement, PNM said that it is examining all of its options and will wait to review the final commission order before taking subsequent steps.

Avangrid also issued a statement following the vote expressing disappointment with the decision.

“We are evaluating the next steps before us,” the emailed statement from spokeswoman Joanie Griffin said. “While we re-evaluate the path ahead, we remain dedicated to the work we do every day across 24 states to create economic, social and environmental value in all the communities we serve.”

Avangrid further said that it hopes to one day welcome New Mexico into its family.

The vote came following PNM and Avangrid, as well as other intervening parties, asking for the commission to hear oral arguments about the exceptions to the hearing examiner’s recommendation. The commission ultimately rejected that request.

The request for oral arguments came after the deadline to make such a request and after the commission had already begun deliberations. Commissioners expressed concerns that Avangrid and PNM could use the oral arguments as an opportunity to address things that were not in the exceptions. The oral arguments are supposed to be limited to just the exceptions filed to the hearing examiner’s recommendations. 

New Energy Economy was one of the main opponents of the merger. Following the vote, Executive Director Mariel Nanasi said that she thinks “New Mexico dodged a bullet.”

Nanasi voiced a variety of concerns about the merger, including the loss of local control, the risks to customers and the impacts on renewable energy development in the state.

In a phone interview with NM Political Report, she highlighted Avangrid’s testimony about using New Mexico as a “beachhead” for its renewable energy projects. Avangrid has been developing wind resources in the eastern part of the state. 

“This commission just stood up for not only reliability but fair competition within the renewable energy industry market,” she said.

The PRC had previously come under fire for three commissioners expressing their positions and intention to vote against the merger during the Dec. 1 meeting, which Attorney General Hector Balderas criticized during a press conference last week.

But, at the start of the discussions, PRC general counsel Michael Smith addressed that. He said the evidentiary record closed in August and the opinions the commissioners expressed on Dec. 1 were based on the evidentiary record.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Both Republicans and Democrats skeptical of guv’s proposals for special session

Both Republicans and Democrats skeptical of guv’s proposals for special session

A representative from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office outlined on Thursday the bills the governor’s office will back during the upcoming special session, but…
Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Thursday his legislative priorities for July’s special legislative session, including the creation of a crime victim’s unit to…
SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a proposed settlement that would have ended the more-than decade-long dispute between Texas and New…
FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that two fish species found in New Mexico do not meet the criteria for listing them as…
Want to know what Albuquerque’s climate might be like in 2080? Head to Roswell

Want to know what Albuquerque’s climate might be like in 2080? Head to Roswell

Thanks to climate change, the Albuquerque of the future may feel a bit more like present-day Roswell. That’s according to a new web app…
Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $8.3 million for childhood development and youth services in the 1st congressional district through federal community project funding. Stansbury,…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

A recent report by KFF, a foundation that provides health policy analysis, found mental health issues on the rise and disparities in mental health…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Texas-based Christian group trying to restrict access to abortion medication on Thursday. The case, FDA v. the…
How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

In the month of March 2024 alone, 1,650 clinician-provided abortions took place in New Mexico, according to the reproductive research organization, the Guttmacher Institute.…
Many Democrats endorsed by reproductive rights group won primaries

Many Democrats endorsed by reproductive rights group won primaries

With nearly 53 percent of the precincts reporting as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, most of the legislative candidates endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes New…
Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

A recent report by KFF, a foundation that provides health policy analysis, found mental health issues on the rise and disparities in mental health…
New Mexico food banks say food insecurity is on the rise

New Mexico food banks say food insecurity is on the rise

Food insecurity is on the rise as state benefits have decreased and the future of federal benefits have an uncertain future.  Sonya Warwick, director…
Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Texas-based Christian group trying to restrict access to abortion medication on Thursday. The case, FDA v. the…
Republican Herrell signs onto what critics call anti-transgender message

Republican Herrell signs onto what critics call anti-transgender message

Republican candidate Yvette Herrell, who is running against Democrat Rep. Gabe Vasquez for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District seat, committed herself to a message…
Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

President Joe Biden leads former president Donald Trump in the race for New Mexico’s five electoral seats, according to a poll commissioned by NM…
Democrats announce spending on CD2 race

Democrats announce spending on CD2 race

The Democratic National Committee announced on Monday that it will spend $70,000 for organizing staff to aid U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, the Democrat trying…
Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

A recent report by KFF, a foundation that provides health policy analysis, found mental health issues on the rise and disparities in mental health…
SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a proposed settlement that would have ended the more-than decade-long dispute between Texas and New…
FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that two fish species found in New Mexico do not meet the criteria for listing them as…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report