SANTA FE — Public Service Company of New Mexico says it will suffer “irreparable harm” if its confidential business information and trade secrets are published by a Santa Fe newspaper that got the documents accidentally from the Public Regulation Commission.
PNM wants to join in a lawsuit filed last week by the PRC seeking to block the Santa Fe New Mexican from reporting on the information, which is related to the pending San Juan Generating Station case.
A reporter for the newspaper who had filed a public records request for emails between PNM and PRC regulators was inadvertently given email attachments that contained the documents, according to the lawsuit in state District Court.
PNM says that violated a protective order issued by a PRC hearing examiner in February, under which the documents were to remain confidential.
In the pending case before the PRC, the utility is requesting approval to abandon two units of the San Juan Generating Station and authorization for replacement generation.
According to the utility, the documents include confidential pricing and confidential terms and conditions relating to the coal supply and other services for San Juan, as well Westmoreland Coal Co.’s purchase of the stock in the San Juan Coal Co. from BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal, Inc.
The utility said in its motion to intervene as a plaintiff in the case that it is “PNM, rather than the Commission, who will suffer actual and irreparable harm” if the information is disclosed.
The PRC “may not adequately protect PNM’s interests,” the utility said. The PRC’s interests aren’t the same as PNM’s, and the regulatory panel might be inclined to compromise or not resist disclosure of portions of the confidential materials, the motion said.
The utility also said the Santa Fe New Mexican “will no doubt argue that First Amendment rights supersede any confidentiality rights that PNM has in the confidential materials. It is appropriate that the court have PNM before it to vindicate its rights” to maintain confidentiality, PNM said.
PNM also contended in the state District Court filing that its confidential information constitutes a “trade secret” under the state’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the newspaper’s possession of the documents constitutes a “misappropriation” of its trade secrets, and the court should order the newspaper to return or destroy all the confidential materials.
The PRC lawsuit is set for a hearing Thursday.