An investigation in Spain into alleged criminal activity by current and former Iberdrola executives merits more scrutiny, a New Mexico Public Regulation Commission official wrote in an order filed Monday.
Commission hearing examiner Ashley Schannauer wrote that more information is required given that Iberdrola and its subsidiary Avangrid hope to merge with Public Service Company of New Mexico.
Accusations include bribery, falsification of documents and hiring a firm to spy on Iberdrola rivals.
Avangrid, Iberdrola and PNM acknowledged in June an investigation was underway in Spain. They maintain it is an early step in a process and doesn’t mean charges will follow.
But merger critic Mariel Nanasi of New Energy Economy argued the June information was inadequate.
Schannauer, who acts as a quasi-judge for the regulation commission, agreed with some of Nanasi’s arguments and disagreed with some others. But he concurred the commission deserves to know more about the case.
Nanasi wrote Avangrid subsidiary Central Maine Power has been accused by a Maine legislator of using similar tactics against rivals in that state.
Schannauer wrote, “Iberdrola’s apparent investigations into its opponents in Europe are relevant to the potentially similar investigations that Iberdrola’s American affiliates may be conducting of their American opponents.”
Avangrid said Monday through a written statement that the merger applicants “have just received the Hearing Examiner’s order and are continuing to review it. We look forward to the opportunity to fully comply to the Hearing Examiner’s order, which recognizes the constraints we have under Spanish law.”
The merger applicants maintain some of the information about the investigation is protected under Spanish law.
Meanwhile, PNM said through a news release Monday that the applicants for the merger are making progress in overcoming some opponents’ objections to their proposal.
An executive of Avangrid, Robert Kump, said in the release there is “a growing consensus around the benefits of the merger to customers, employees, communities and the environment across New Mexico.”