As Public Service Company of New Mexico’s current chief financial officer and future chief executive officer, and more importantly, as a lifelong New Mexican who has raised my family in the communities PNM serves, I want to share with you why I believe the merger with Avangrid is a step forward for our customers, our communities, our environment, our state and our shared future.
It was once said, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” Our customers, regulators and stakeholders are entitled to the facts about this merger to form their own opinion of the benefits Avangrid can bring to our great state and our children.
New Energy Economy’s Mariel Nanasi wrote an op-ed (“PNM/Avangrid merger is bad for ratepayers,” My View, June 6) that is more about her opinion than the facts. I would like to add factual context to these claims so people can judge for themselves whether Avangrid is the kind of company that will be good for New Mexico.
- Avangrid is accused of “strong-arm” tactics in Maine to push its agenda.
The facts: In Maine, out-of-state fossil generation owners are funding the opponents of Avangrid’s New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line that will bring clean, renewable energy to New England. The reason simply is that new clean energy solutions are bad for owners of fossil-generated utilities. Why? For the same reasons we are exiting our coal generation here in New Mexico — renewables are less expensive than fossil generation.
- Avangrid wants to use PNM customers as a jump-off point to sell electricity to bigger markets in California and Mexico at our expense.
The facts: In New Mexico, finding opportunities to build renewable energy projects for use not only in New Mexico but also for the entire Southwest is positive for the environment and for our state. The costs of renewable energy projects to serve neighboring markets will not be borne by New Mexico customers, but instead, customers from those neighboring markets will fund New Mexico jobs and prosperity. We will all become the beneficiaries of the revitalization of our economy that comes with exporting excess renewable energy we could never consume in the state.
- Avangrid is seeking to extend the life of the Four Corners plant.
The facts: Nothing could be further from the truth. Avangrid does not support coal-fired generation and welcomed PNM’s preexisting efforts to get out of coal entirely. New Energy Economy is seeking to force PNM to remain an owner of the coal plant and could cost customers $30 million to $100 million in savings, $17 million in economic help to the area and an estimated annual 20 percent to 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions at the plant spurred by PNM’s exit.
The assertion that the merger documents required the abandonment of Four Corners is incorrect. The evidence is clear: PNM previously had a plan to abandon and securitize (refinance to save customers money) our minority 13 percent ownership interest in Four Corners, and Avangrid certainly supported PNM’s existing plan. Moreover, the abandonment is the subject of a separate proceeding before the Public Regulation Commission. Its outcome will not impact whether the merger moves forward.
- The New Energy Economy piece understates customer rate benefits.
The facts: The total customer rate benefits are $73 million — $23 million goes to people who need it most: those who lack resources for energy efficiency, those who owe money on past-due bills during the pandemic and those who do not have access to the grid. These are rate benefits that New Energy Economy claimed it wanted customers to have, but opponents consistently ignore them when discussing the merger. These rate benefits are more than customers have received in any other utility merger in the state’s history, including El Paso Electric and New Mexico Gas Co.
The article also ignores the substantial economic development benefits of the merger, which include new permanent high-paying jobs, which experts have calculated will bring more than $150 million in economic development benefits to our state.
This merger is an extraordinary opportunity for New Mexico and New Mexicans. After 25 years of working at PNM, I fully believe the next chapter looks even brighter as we embrace clean energy solutions, economic growth and new jobs with the support of Avangrid.