I am a PNM customer. I am writing today to speak against the merger of PNM with Avangrid/Iberdrola.
I have a Ph.D. in sociology and, as part of my research, I studied privatization in Latin America. Which is how I learned about the way Iberdrola, Avangrid’s parent company, penetrated Latin American markets and the disastrous consequences for consumers. Iberdrola’s bad reputation stems not only from its performance in Maine. The company has an international reputation for inappropriate, unethical behavior and mistreatment of customers in pursuit of profits.
The conflict of interest exposed in the PNM/Avangrid merger between Iberdrola’s lawyer Marcus Rael and Attorney General Hector Balderas is the international modus operandi of this company. In Mexico, they cultivated close relations with President Felipe Calderon (2006-12) and his secretary of energy in order to obtain advantageous contracts that would otherwise have been denied. The conflict of interest was revealed when both ex-president Calderon and the former secretary of energy were later employed by Iberdrola in a shameless example of the revolving door between government and big business.
These contracts were – and continue to be – detrimental to the state-owned electrical company, CFE, forcing it to buy electricity from Iberdrola regardless of need, a practice that amounts to dumping. Today, Mexico is stuck with these abusive contracts, causing current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador to warn Iberdrola that Mexico is no longer “a land of conquest” and to take steps to curb the abusive practices.
Iberdrola was expelled from Guatemala in 2008 and from Bolivia in 2012 for similar reasons: poor quality of the electrical supply, making rates more expensive, and failing to guarantee access to disadvantaged sectors of the population.
In Brazil, Iberdrola controls more than 70% of the electrical energy. Since its arrival, electricity rates have increased by almost 400%, making it the fifth-highest in the world for electricity rates. Also, Iberdrola subsidiaries have been accused of bribing the police and carrying out acts of violence against the populations that oppose their projects.
Latin America is the most profitable region for Iberdrola. Although it accounts for less than 10% of the corporation’s costs, it provides almost 25% of the total profit. This has not been achieved by providing good service and fair prices to consumers.
Spain’s electrical market is controlled by Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy. Recently, the cost of electricity there surpassed a record high for the third time in less than three months. This has caused immense suffering among Spaniards of all social strata, now forced to turn on electrical appliances and air conditioners for only a few hours a day in the hottest summer months. Iberdrola’s profits have increased yearly. So has people’s misery. Why, I ask, should we expect Iberdrola to treat New Mexicans differently?
Finally, for all the high ethical standards of Avangrid/Iberdrola that the company and supporters tout, let us remember that there is currently an investigation underway in Spain for potential criminal activities connected to Iberdrola.
I urge my fellow New Mexicans to contact the Public Regulation Commission and request that it abandon this merger and instead consider the possibility of a public company owned by the people of New Mexico.