Too often New Energy Economy is dismissed by state leadership for being uncompromising in its fights with PNM and now with Avangrid / Iberdrola. Well, the PRC just ruled that maybe our leadership should thank NEE for conducting the kind of investigative research we should expect from our AG and Governor.
Another Bad Day for Avangrid / Iberdrola and PNM as the PRC Rules
In the first sections of the PRC ruling, the hearing examiner laid out in detail how all of Avangrid / Iberdrola’s objections to New Energy Economy’s discovery requests were irrelevant and that NEE’s requests were relevant and upheld.
In addition, to upholding NEE, the PRC pointed to information that it finds particularly relevant….and that was very bad news for Avangrid / Iberdrola as the PRC is most interested in the details of the Spanish investigation of Iberdrola on charges of corporate spying, bribery, fraud and providing false information.
In addition, the PRC is also interested in how Central Maine Power, another of Iberdrola’s US subsidiaries, has subjected Maine to precisely the same kind of unethical and illegal, corporate behavior for which Spain is investigating Iberdrola.
Finally, the PRC is interested in finding out more about how Iberdrola / Avangrid are spending money here in NM and whether there are instances of bribery, spying or fraud here in NM. Like I said, not a good day for Avangrid / Iberdrola.
Given the explosive revelations about the Attorney General’s office’s cozy relationship with Marcus Rael, Avangrid / Iberdrola’s high priced attorney, it will be most interesting indeed to find how Avangrid frames its relationship with Rael. It will also be intriguing how they detail the millions they have spent to date in NM trying to convince the public and decision-makers that their proposed merger should be approved and their lengthy history of unethical corporate behavior, set aside.
And one item in which I am most intrigued to hear more about is how Avangrid / Iberdrola justifies paying Marcus Rael $400 an hour (double Rael’s standard rate), when according to his firm’s own website, he has exactly zero experience with utility law. In fact, the word “utility” doesn’t even appear on Rael’s very lengthy bio. Click here to review the full bio.
Even mega corporations with millions to burn don’t typically fritter their profits away on attorney fees for attorneys with no expertise in the matter at hand. So, what expertise does Rael offer in spades? A tight relationship with the NM Attorney General. And in Sunday’s post, we outlined just how tight that relationship is, see “Fraud and Corruption Charges Leveled at NM Attorney General Balderas”
So, yesterday’s PRC ruling opens the door to discovery on all manner of topics that Avangrid / Iberdrola would just as soon were swept under the rug. In one paragraph on P. 13 of the ruling, the PRC pulled that rug right out from under Avangrid / Iberdrola.
“The Joint Applicants’ [Avangrid / Iberdrola] primary objections to the discovery requests in NEE’s motion to compel are that the information requested (1) is protected from disclosure by Spanish law and (2) is not relevant to the issues in this proceeding. The discussion in the preceding section finds that the information is relevant. It also finds that documents created independently from the Spanish criminal investigation are subject to disclosure. Accordingly, these two objections should be dismissed.”
And with this, the PRC stated unequivocally that New Energy Economy’s motion to compel is relevant and has been upheld. Strike one for Avangrid/Iberdrola. Strike two can be found later in the ruling when the PRC identified the kind of information in which they are particularly interested, specifically information related to the investigations ongoing in Spain into fraud, bribery and spying and in Maine, in relation to Central Maine Power (CMP), one of the American affiliates of Iberdrola / Avangrid, where CMP “appears to have engaged in similar tactics regarding a controversial transmission line project in Maine.” The PRC goes on to cite claims made by Seth Berry.
“Seth Berry, a state legislator from Maine involved in the opposition to the project, alleges that the campaign of Central Maine Power and its Avangrid affiliates to force completion of the transmission line included a network of out-of-state political consultants and aggressive strategies to discredit the people’s referendum opposing the project, including:
* $397,467 spent on lawyers to challenge the Secretary of State’s certification of the petition signatures, sue the State of Maine in an effort to block the referendum from appearing on the ballot after failing to disqualify sufficient signatures, and then appeal the court’s decision that the ballot measure was valid;
* $99,021 on a private detective firm, Merrill’s Investigations, to stalk Maine citizens who were gathering signatures;
* $117,820 on an Arizona-based political firm, Signafide, whose sole purpose was to attempt to discredit signatures for citizen initiatives; and
$112,114 on an Oakland, California-based opposition research firm, VR Research, to dig into the records of organizations and presumably individuals opposed to the project.”PRC Ruling on NEE motion to compel information from Avangrid/Iberdrola
And while there has been no revelations about Avangrid / Iberdrola spying on opponents in NM (yet), there are clearly a number of crackerjack reporters out there smelling a story, especially after Searchlight’s explosive story on the AG office.
Below, I provide an initial list of information that the PRC has held Avangrid / Iberdrola must provide. These are not topics that a corporation will want to be sharing when at the same time it is airing non-stop ads about their being one of the most ethical corporations on earth.
When Does the Governor Say Enough is Enough?
It is easy to understand how the Governor and the AG could have read PR pieces produced by Avangrid / Iberdrola with glowing language about their ethics and their commitment to renewable energy and thought that their entrance into our utility system would benefit New Mexicans. But at what point is enough enough.
If New Energy Economy can identify Maine advocates who are seeking to create a public utility because they are so disgusted with Avangrid / Iberdrola’s performance, certainly NM state leadership has access to this information, as well.
If Retake Our Democracy can do a simple google search and develop, “Avangrid Has Been Horrid in Maine & NY, But Far Worse in South & Central America & In Europe & the UK, They are a Force for Suppressing Renewables,” a piece on Avangrid / Iberdrola’s horrific exploitation of one country after another in Africa and the Global South, certainly Democratic leadership could have done the same Google search.
At what point, does the Governor say,
“When Avangrid presented their plans for massive investment in renewables here in NM, how could I not have been impressed and pleased. But over the past several weeks more and more has been learned about the corporate behavior of Avangrid and at this point, I must withdraw my support.
Our office encourages the PRC to reject the proposed merger. And in a related matter, this administration asks the State Auditor to do a thorough investigation of the complaint filed last week about the billing practices of the Office of the Attorney General.”
I suspect that the revelations are not done, that within days more will be revealed, making it more and more difficult for the Governor and others who initially supported the merger, to maintain that support.
Thank you, New Energy Economy for your courage in exposing this fraud before it was too late.
Below is Attachment 1 which delineates the items that the PRC has ordered Avangrid / Iberdrola to address. Of particular note, review the Avangrid expenditures identified under item 8, below. You’d best believe that Avangrid / Iberdrola is up to the same kind of underhanded behavior here in NM.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne
- Identify the current and former executives of Iberdrola and its affiliates who are
the subject of the investigation(s) identified in the June 24 Notice involving Cenyt and Jose Manuel Villarejo. Include their current positions and, if no longer serving in those positions, the dates and reasons for their departures.
- Describe why Iberdrola and its affiliates made 1 million euros in payments to Cenyt.
- Provide a detailed description of each of the following projects alleged to have
been performed by Cenyt at the direction of Iberdrola and its affiliates and/or their directors and officers, including the amounts spent by Iberdrola and its affiliates:
b. Black Board
- Identify the individuals who authorized or otherwise approved the work in
question 3 above.
- Describe the reasons and purposes that Iberdrola officials ordered each of the
projects in question 3 above.
- Provide copies of the following documents identified in the Joint Applicants’ response to NEE Discovery Request 16-6:
a. The report of the Internal Audit Department that identified 17 invoices
paid to Cenyt by Iberdrola, S.A. and Iberdrola Renoables Energia, S.A.U.
b. The report of PWC hired by Iberdrola
- Identify the global security director who was involved with the Cenyt contracts,
as described in the Joint Applicants’ response to NEE Discovery Request 16-4, and provide the reasons why he left the company and the date he left.
- Confirm the accuracy of the following account on page 18 of the May 25, 2021
Verified Statement of Seth Berry (attached to New Energy Economy’s Reply to Joint
Applicants’ Response to Order Regarding Avangrid Service Quality Issues and Management Audits: [Central Maine Power’s] campaign to force completion of this destructive transmission line included a network of out-of-state political consultants and aggressive strategies to discredit the people’s referendum opposing the project,
● $397,467 spent on lawyers to challenge the Secretary of State’s certification of the petition signatures, sue the State of Maine in an effort to block the referendum from appearing on the ballot after failing to disqualify sufficient signatures, and then appeal the court’s decision that the ballot measure was valid
● $99,021 on a private detective firm, Merrill’s Investigations, to stalk Maine
citizens who were gathering signatures;
● $117,820 on an Arizona-based political firm, Signafide, whose sole
purpose was to attempt to discredit signatures for citizen initiatives; and
● $112,114 on an Oakland, California-based opposition research firm, VR
Research, to dig into the records of organizations and presumably
individuals opposed to the project.
- Identify the individuals who authorized the activities in question 8 above.
- Have any of the Avangrid/PNMR affiliates engaged in or conducted in New Mexico any activities similar to the activities in question 8 above? If so, identify who authorized the activities, describe the activities and the amounts spent, and the individuals who were targeted.
- Provide copies of the following documents to the extent they are not protected from public disclosure by Spanish law:
a. The document issued by the investigating judge, Manuel Garcia-Castellon,
on June 23, 2021, that provided for the investigation of Ignacio Galan, Fernando
Becker, Francisco Martinez Corcoles and Rafael Orbegozo.
b. The Public Prosecutor’s report that was sent to the investigating judge,
Manuel Garcia-Castellon, on June 23, 2021 relating to a proposed investigation of
Ignacio Sanchez Galan, Fernando Becker, Francisco Martinez Corcoles and
c. The May 12, 2021 report of the Internal Affairs Unit of the police to the
judge detailing the discovery of nine audio conversations between Jose Manuel
Villarejo and the former security chief of Iberdrola, Antonio Ansenjo.
d. The July 9, 2021 document issued by the investigating judge, Manuel
Garcia-Castellon, that provided for the investigation of Iberdrola Renovables.
e. The Public Prosecutor’s report that was sent to the investigating judge,
Manuel Garcia-Castellon relating to a proposed investigation of Iberdrola
If the documents requested in question 11 cannot be publicly disclosed under
Spanish law but they can be filed or provided to the Commission under seal, please provide the documents under the permissible conditions.
Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation