PRC hearing examiner rejects PNM-Avangrid merger - Albuquerque Journal

PRC hearing examiner rejects PNM-Avangrid merger

The Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner reviewing the potential merger between PNM Resources and Connecticut-based energy giant Avangrid recommended Monday afternoon that the five PRC commissioners reject the proposed deal.

“The potential harms of the proposed transaction outweigh the benefits,” hearing examiner Ashley Schannauer said in his “recommended decision” on the merger, which he sent late Monday to roughly two dozen parties intervening in the case.

The recommended decision is non-binding on PRC commissioners, who must now make their own decision about the merger.

If approved by the PRC, Avangrid would acquire PNMR and its two utility subsidiaries — Public Service Company of New Mexico and Texas New Mexico Power — in an all-cash transaction valued at $4.3 billion. The deal would affect about 800,000 homes and businesses, including some 530,000 customers served by PNM around the state.

The two companies requested PRC approval for the merger in late 2020, ushering in more than 10 months of testimony and evidence-gathering by parties participating in the case. That included two weeks of public hearings from Aug. 10-20, where Schannauer and the intervening parties weighed the pros and cons of a “stipulated agreement” that PNMR and Avangrid had negotiated with nearly two-thirds of the case participants.

In exchange for support from intervening parties, Avangrid agreed to dozens of concessions in the stipulation, such as economic benefits for rate payers and local communities. That included $65 million in customer rate relief — to be credited on consumers’ monthly bills over three years — and $50 million more in other types of customer assistance and spending on economic development programs. It also included safeguards to protect the public against adverse management of PNM by Avangrid in the future.

Schannauer, however, said months of negotiations between the utilities and parties supporting the stipulation led to numerous changes in Avangrid’s commitments and promises, making it extremely difficult to point to a final, cohesive agreement that reflects the interests of all parties involved.

Indeed, an initial agreement was signed with some parties in early May, then modified through negotiations with more parties to reach a second, expanded agreement on June 4. But, in the following months leading up to and including the public hearings in August, Avangrid and PNMR continued negotiating with different parties. In the end, the merger partners agreed to more than 40 modifications to the June 4 stipulation, with no clear consensus among supporters about all the changes.

“The number of amendments the signatories have proposed after executing the June 4 stipulation and the conflicts among the proposed amendments indicate there is no longer an agreement that can be approved,” Schannauer wrote in his recommended decision.

Many changes were negotiated to satisfy the “narrow interests” of individual parties, Schannauer added, with no final agreement reached that’s clearly supported by everyone.

“As a result, the original signatories to the June 4 stipulation no longer support the terms of that stipulation and there is no widespread agreement on a modified set of conditions under which all or most of the parties propose approval of the proposed transaction,” Schannauer said.

The commissioners can accept or reject Scahnnauer’s recommendations. If they vote to approve the merger, they can also impose their own conditions on PNMR and Avangrid.

However, if the commission does approve the merger, Schannauer outlined a number of stipulation modifications the merger parties negotiated that he says commissioners should include in their final order.

“Any approval should include at least those changes,” Schannauer said.

 

See the full document published on the PRC’s public access portal here: Certificate of Stipulation


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
'Rust' supplier may have mistakenly provided live rounds
ABQnews Seeker
Investigation by the Santa Fe County ... Investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has centered around how live ammunition got onto the set and where it came from
2
House, Lobos keep Aggies in the dark
ABQnews Seeker
Jaelen House scored 31 points and ... Jaelen House scored 31 points and the UNM Lobos hit 12 of 14 free throws in the final 1:53 to ice a 101-94 rivalry ...
3
Emptying the Notebook: Lobos light up scoreboard in win ...
ABQnews Seeker
Here are some notes, quotes, odds ... Here are some notes, quotes, odds & ends and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after UNM's 101-94 win over ...
4
Henry's tree to be lit for the last time ...
ABQnews Seeker
But, even when the lights go ... But, even when the lights go dark, it will always be time to remember Henry Aceves, the man who saved Christmas
5
Snowboarder killed at Sipapu worked in Presbyterian ER
ABQnews Seeker
28-year-old trying sport for first time ... 28-year-old trying sport for first time apparently hit a tree
6
Ancient juniper trees cut illegally in New Mexico monument
ABQnews Seeker
Alligator junipers, which have unique bark, ... Alligator junipers, which have unique bark, can live up to 500 years, even in harsh conditions
7
Trial starts for suspect in uncle's shooting death
ABQnews Seeker
Prosecutor disputes claim of self-defense as ... Prosecutor disputes claim of self-defense as 2020 security video reviewed
8
NM middle school bans flags as capes
ABQnews Seeker
Popular trend barred after student honored ... Popular trend barred after student honored Confederacy on campus
9
Man pleads not guilty in death of Taos Pueblo ...
ABQnews Seeker
Not guilty plea in murder of ... Not guilty plea in murder of Taos Pueblo artist xxxxxx Jump Not guilty plea in murder of Taos Pue ...