Talk of the Town: PNM/Avangrid merger rejected for good reason - Albuquerque Journal

Talk of the Town: PNM/Avangrid merger rejected for good reason

What’s with PRC’s abrupt about-face?

ARE YOU concerned about the N.M. Public Regulation Commission reopening the PNM/Avangrid merger? Perhaps there is justification for N.M. ratepayers to be wary. It is astonishing when the newly seated three-member PRC abruptly announces its collaboration with Avangrid and PNM in asking the N.M. Supreme Court to dismiss a pending appeal filed by both utilities in 2022 challenging the merger denial.

Ironically the proposed merger was quashed by the previous five-member elected PRC based on the evaluations of the examiner and the pleas of numerous constituents. All one needs to do to realize the angst of the ratepaying public is to look at the editorial pages of the Albuquerque Journal in late 2020 into 2021.

It is questionable how the new three-member PRC appointed by the governor and seated in January decides in early March to join with the merger advocates to allow the merger question to be considered by the PRC again. What is the rationale for this abrupt turn?

This action by the newly seated PRC is excessive bureaucratic overreach and defies ratepayer preferences reflected in the prior PRC denial of the request. Most support for the previous attempt was primarily from politicians and businesses that might have benefited or profited had the merger been approved.

If PNM is so anxious to sell, why is Avangrid the only apparent suitor? How pivotal are control of transmission lines in this renewed effort? If Avangrid is considered, should the extent of the takeover be a negotiating factor for our state? Much of the transmission infrastructure was constructed with (rate)payer assistance. Are the services and rate maintenance of current PNM customers being considered by the PRC?

Walt Punke, Albuquerque

Good reasons that merger was rejected

THE PREVIOUS Public Regulatory Commission (PRC) rejected Iberdrola-Avangrid’s (IA) multibillion-dollar proposal to buy PNM. Why?

Because of the deterioration in service, high prices and poor corporate performance of the eight electric and gas utilities owned by IA in Connecticut, other northeastern states and Texas.

It’s a good thing Santa Fe-based New Energy Economy (NEE) and other concerned New Mexicans will fight against reopening the IA-buyout-of-PNM case.

The N.M. Supreme Court can’t order the withdrawal of a previous PRC ruling against IA’s proposal to buy PNM, or remand it back to the PRC. Why?

Because that would be unlawful.

NEE Executive Director Mariel Nanasi has said IA and PNM do not have a legal right to ask the court to withdraw a previous PRC decision, or allow an appeal or order the new PRC to reconsider it.

If Spain’s multinational energy giant parent corporation and its child Avangrid want PNM so bad, then they can file another proposal with the new, smaller three-member PRC. That’s the rule of law.

New Mexicans have sound reasons to be worried about a foreign corporation and its out-of-state shell company taking over and running PNM.

Iberdrola and Avangrid do not have good corporate records. Iberdrola and Avangrid would be even less accountable for high prices and poor performance than PNM.

John Adams Ingram, Albuquerque

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