All of you have seen the ubiquitous PNM-Avangrid merger ads with paid actors all proclaiming “I’m In” for the merger because: fill in the blank with one of their false promises. When you have enough money and no qualms, you can make up anything and ensure everyone sees it enough, so that over time bad becomes good, false becomes true, and no becomes yes.
Well, Retake had had enough of the false claims and so we recruited real New Mexicans, not actors, and produced a counterpoint to the PNM “I’m In” ad. We call it “I’m Out.”
We don’t have a massive budget to run this piece repeatedly (or even once or twice) during the evening news, so for many to see this we need you to share this post with the video with your friends, on Social Media, and most importantly, to send it to your PRC Commissioner. There is still time to weigh in with your Commissioner before the final vote.
Today’s post includes the “I’m Out” video below, followed by a guest blog from Saraswati Khalsa, one of our board members. Khalsa offers specific flaws in PNM’s lies-laden campaign, offering ample evidence for why this deal should be rejected, and then we provide contact info for all the PRC Commissioners. But we didn’t want to voice a huge “NO TO PNM,” we wanted to offer something to say “yes” to, an alternative to this vile merger. So after Saraswati’s piece, we offer excerpts from a prior Retake post that delineates the tremendous benefits of Public Power.
Saraswati Khalsa On Why the PNM-Avangrid Merger is Very Bad for NM
In September the House Oversight Committee called on top executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as the lobby groups American Petroleum Institute and the United States Chamber of Commerce, to testify before Congress about their role in spreading disinformation about climate change. Exxon alone has spent more than $31 million funding groups promoting climate change denial. Meanwhile the airwaves, radio and newspapers are flooded with ads promoting the green energy bonafides of these oil and gas giants who have been lying through their teeth for decades.
Given the magnitude of corporate gaslighting we witness everyday, it was no surprise to me when I read a story last week about the leak of radioactive waste at an Iberdrola-owned nuclear reactor in Europe. Iberdrola is the parent company of Avangrid, the so-called “Exxon of Renewables,” that is proposing to buy out PNM. And like Exxon, Avangrid and Iberdrola are engaged in their own ad blitz here in New Mexico to promote themselves as our environmental saviors, spending more than $1.5 million on glitzy ads promoting the merger in New Mexico as of August. But the reality is far different.
A review of their record in energy markets across the world uncovers alarming statistics and stories that undermine their shiny green reputation. Iberdrola’s primary business is producing electricity with natural gas, dammed rivers, and nuclear fuel — their energy mix in 2020 consisted of 39.1% gas, 14.9% nuclear, 13.9% hydro electricity, 26.9% wind and just 1% solar. In Spain they drained reservoirs that communities depend on for drinking water and diverted it to boost their hydroelectricity production, an action timed to capitalize on a spike in energy prices in Europe. In Maine they hired private investigators to follow citizens gathering signatures to oppose their hydroelectric transmission project, and in Brazil Iberdrola’s subsidiary Neoenergia pressured the Brazilian government to approve large hydroelectric plants, even working to destroy the Brazilian Institute of Environment (IBAMA) after it would not grant licenses to several projects due to expected negative impacts in the Amazon. The Belo Monte plant, which was strongly resisted by environmental organizations and Indigenous peoples, was forced through and has now begun operation, resulting in the flooding of 6,500 square kilometers of rainforest and displacing more than 24,000 indigenous people.
And in Spain, Iberdrola executives are currently under investigation for fraud, bribery, misuse of funds, and corruption.
Iberdrola was a key member of the Magritte group, a notorious collection of gas and coal utilities that successfully weakened the EUs 2030 renewable energy ambitions, and was also one of the utilities that took leadership of renewable energy lobbies in Brussels in order to weaken their climate ambitions and get them to support gas.
The reality is that like every other giant energy conglomerate in the world, their primary goal is profit and they will stop at nothing to pursue that goal. Ratepayers around the world have suffered under the greed and mismanagement of Iberdrola and Avangrid as they voraciously expand operations across continents and use their market dominance to keep rates as high as possible. New Mexico leadership and environmental organizations should be ashamed that they bought Avangrid’s “malarkey” without even a simple investigation of the facts.
Last month’s op-ed in the New Mexican by Shane Woolbright points out that if Anadarko energy, a rural electric cooperative in Oklahoma, can produce 89% of its summer energy needs from renewable energy by 2023, there is no reason why PNM cannot figure out how to do the same. The PRC should reject the proposed merger between PNM and Avangrid, and our state’s leadership should instead do the work necessary to understand the forces at play in this energy transition and ensure that New Mexicans control and profit from our own energy supply and distribution.
Public Power: an Alternative to PNM, XCel, et al & a Path to 100% Renewables & a Diverse, Sustainable NM Economy
Retake often notes that the Democratic Party must return to its FDR roots, and FDR’s perspective on public power offers just another example of how this can be done. Retake’s June 22 Post: “Public Power: A Path to Energy Democracy, a Just Transition, & 100% Renewable Energy offers a specific path for how the state, a city like Las Cruces, or any Pueblo can free themselves of public utilities and create their own energy futures. I recommend reviewing the full post, but here is a sampling to whet your appetite, PNM-Iberdrola is not our only option:
““I therefore lay down the following principle: That where a community–a city or county or district–is not satisfied with the service rendered or the rates charged by the private utility, it has the undeniable basic right, as one of its functions of government, one of its functions of home rule, to set up, after a fair referendum to its voters has been had, its own governmentally owned and operated service.”Franklin D. Roosevelt, September 21, 1932.
The American Public Power Association (APPA) is a think tank that has created a website with a clear delineation of the rationale for public power, including by a step-by-step guide outlining precisely how any county, city, or tribe could develop its own publicly owned, operated, and managed utility company. Despite the formidable challenges, this is hardly a pipe dream. Forty-nine states in the US have at least one publicly owned utility company and there are over 2,000 communities and 48 million Americans served by public power. So it can be done.
The APPA’s public power guide is laid out in five sections:
- What is Public Power?
- Benefits of Public Power
- Forming a Public Power Utility
- Myths and Misinformation
- Successful Public Power Campaigns
What Is Public Power
“Public power utilities are like our public schools and libraries: a division of local government, owned by the community, run by boards of local officials accountable to the citizens. Most public power utilities are owned by cities and towns, but many are owned by counties, public utility districts, and even states.From APPI: “Municipalization”
Click here to review Retake’s June 22 post that offers full tour of the APPA public Power Guide, with evidence of how public power is greener, less expensive, much more reliable, and achievable. But once you’ve absorbed all the evidence, be sure to take action below.
Time to Act: Contact Your PRC Commissioner today!
The PRC Hearing Examiner will produce a recommended decision on the merger sometime in the first half of November. PRC Commissioners will vote two or three weeks later. Please email and call your commissioner this week, making sure you let him/her know you live in his/her district. Include a link to this post, along with your reasons for being opposed to the proposed PNM-Avangrid merger. Make sure you let them know this is very important to you, that this why you voted to retain an elected PRC, and that now is the time they need to step up against this green-washing campaign. To find out who your PRC Commissioner is, go to this link.
One More Action
Please share the link to this post in Social media, with friends/colleagues, and with any group in which you may be a member. We need to try to overcome the obscene, paid misinformation funded by dark money from Spain. We can’t let Avangrid/ Iberdrola colonize NM. When you reach out to others be sure to reference Public Power as an alternative to this merger. Forge on!
In solidarity and hope,
Paul, Roxanne & Saraswati