Avangrid Deception Continues –Urgent Action Needed

Avangrid/Iberdrola/PNM have been working behind the scenes to coerce a deal from the PRC, making a big announcement of their complete acceptance of all the hearing examiner’s stipulations while at the same time quietly filing motions refusing to agree to four important stipulations. These folks can’t be trusted. In response, we offer you new arguments and a renewed a call to action.

Before we dive into the Avangrid/Iberdrola/PNM muck, I want to alert you to our Retake Radio show from last weekend. It covered a most important local issue with statewide implications: Santa Fe’s unrestrained housing development that is not addressing our need for affordable housing but does put the city at risk of running out of water. The Santa Fe Basin Water Association has been in this fight for years and they know their stuff. For those of you not from Santa Fe, this kind of uncontrolled urban sprawl may still resonate. Think Santolina in Albuquerque.

Bill Richardson Calls Avangrid/Iberdrola “World Class.” We Disagree. Time to Act

On Nov 19, former Governor Bill Richardson penned an off-the-rails letter to the editor in the Santa Fe New Mexican. My response is below and will be submitted to the New Mexican soon. After my response, we offer an update on what Avangrid/Iberdrola is up to (no good) and how our messaging and strategy has changed subtly. But first my response to Richardson’s misguided letter.

I’d like to respond to the entirely unsubstantiated claims made by former Gov. Bill Richardson in his Nov. 19 letter to the editor. Richardson claimed “The Iberdrola/Avangrid leadership team continues to provide energy solutions with unmatched world-class engineering for power generation, electrical transmission and advanced grid technology. They have earned the respect for their accomplishments from leaders in the communities in which they operate and around the world.” 

I wonder if Richardson is referring to the “world class” work they are doing in Maine where, for the last three years, Avangrid-Iberdrola’s Central Maine Power (CMP) has achieved the lowest customer service satisfaction rating in the country on JD Powers annual nationwide survey of utility customers?

Or maybe he is referring to CMP’s “world class engineering,” where, according to the National Energy Information Agency, they generate the second most power outages of any utility company in the nation.

Maybe he is referring to Iberdrola’s corporate leadership that is under investigation for corporate spying, bribery, forgery, and corruption in Spain. Or in Bolivia, where Pres. Morales nationalized Iberdrola operations because of inconsistent service and because Iberdrola charged more for electricity in rural areas than it did in cities and ignored repeated efforts to address the deficiencies.

Earlier this month, the Public Regulation Commission’s Chief Hearing Examiner Ashley Schannauer issued a Certification of Stipulation (CS) and recommended that the proposed merger be rejected because the potential harm and risks of outages and unreliability, diminished service quality, corruption, subsidization of non-utility activities, and reduction in local control significantly outweighed any benefits promised by Avangrid/Iberdrola/PNM. He also stated that if the merger must be approved, despite the absence of a net public benefit, the PRC should impose a series of modifications and conditions detailed in the Certification Stipulation.

In an effort to save its merger, Avangrid/Iberdrola/PNM publicly announced that they would accept all conditions proposed by the Hearing Examiner but, at almost the same time, filed exceptions to four fundamental conditions recommended in the order. Did they think we wouldn’t notice?

One of the stipulations that Avangrid/Iberdrola/PNM refused to accept was reliability metrics and automatic penalties for reliability failures. This was proposed by the Hearing Examiner to protect ratepayers from Avangrid’s history of poor performance and regulatory noncompliance. Why would a corporation with “world class engineering expertise” resist having their performance measured?

Richardson asserted that Avangrid/Iberdrola “have earned the respect for their accomplishments from leaders in the communities in which they operate and around the world.” Yet on Nov 2, 59% of Maine voters voted to reject Avangrid’s plan to construct a power line from Quebec through Maine to Massachusetts so it could sell Canadian hydro-electric energy on the grid at no benefit to its Maine customers, but with great profit accruing to Avangrid. Undeterred, the next day Avangrid leadership announced it would ignore the vote and continue bulldozing the Maine forest.

There are an awful lot of other reasons to reject this merger, but perhaps most startling is how the Hearing Examiner closed his recommendation to reject the merger: “Even assuming the adoption of protections that appear sufficient, including protections to ensure service quality and reliability, the Commission will need to devote considerable enforcement resources to ensure that Avangrid, Inc. and PNM comply with those protections.” 

Avangrid/Iberdrola/PNM have proven themselves to be utterly untrustworthy. Why on earth would NM want to hand over our energy future to this partnership? To read more reasons for rejecting this merger and to get contact info for your PRC Commissioner, go to RetakeOurDemocracy.org/Avangrid/ and contact your Commissioner right away to let them know you have not been fooled by the ads or by our former Governor.

A subtle shift in Avangrid strategy

Clearly, Avangrid/Iberdrola/PNM are pulling out all the stops and trying to coax a deal from the PRC. We can’t let this happen. We have updated our Avangrid strategy page to focus on this last deception about accepting all stipulations while rejecting four important ones. It is now up to you to:

  • Call or email 5-10 friends and ask them to use our strategy page to write and call their Commissioner.
  • Call and email your Commissioner again, acknowledging that you’ve called and emailed before but that you are alarmed that Avangrid/Iberdrola/PNM claim to have accepted all the stipulations, while in reality they have rejected four key stipulations, most importantly the one about performance metrics and penalties. This kind of dishonest communication is yet another reason to deny this merger. And even if they accepted the performance metrics, as the Chief Hearing Officer noted, the PRC would have to devote huge resources they don’t have to monitor everything Avangrid does. They can’t be trusted. [Use your own words.]
  • Register for our Wednesday, Dec. 1 Final Push Zoom/Phonathon where we will update you on developments, tweak our action strategy as needed, and then make calls and send emails together.
  • Recruit friends to participate in the Zoom.
  • Use our strategy page to write your own letter to the editor or op-ed.

Click here to register for the Zoom.

It is critical that we make a final push and continue to contact our PRC Commissioners. if you actually talk with yours, be ready to counter any arguments he/she may give for even considering this deal and have the Avangrid strategy page open so you can tick off more reasons for opposing the merger. We can’t let these crooks into our state.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Climate Justice

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1 reply

  1. Regarding the PNM/Avangrid/Iberdrola “merger”. Haven’t we finally learned that the larger the company, the greater the odds for abuse of the public?

    Few citizens appreciate the level of corporate fraud running rampant in our society. All premeditated, all planned over the decades since the infamous Powell Memo of 1971 outlined the conspiratorial takeover of our society by the ownership class.

    A group of megabanks have just agreed to settle – without acknowledging guilt – the New Mexico attorney general’s suit alleging a 15-year pattern of financial manipulation costing the state untold millions. Walgreen’s and CVS have just been found complicit in the poisoning by opioids of the entire nation. These are only two of countless instances of corporate crime so ubiquitous as to be under-appreciated by all except the same large corporations who have committed, are committing, and will continue to commit atrocities victimizing all of us.

    I haven’t seen an argument against PNM’s escape plan based on the near certainty of future megacorporate criminality, but surely it is time.

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