I’m not an expert on the economics of renewable energy. But as a Public Service Company of New Mexico rate payer, I’ve tried to understand exactly what PNM’s proposed merger with Avangrid would mean to me personally.

Turning the state into one of the Southwest’s leading sources of renewable energy appeals to the environmentalist in me. The hard part is grasping how it’s going to benefit my pocketbook. Rhetoric surrounding the merger promises the state a new economic dawn.

The merger will deliver $270 million in benefits to New Mexico, according to Avangrid. For argument’s sake, let’s divide the number by PNM’s 525,000 customers in New Mexico. It comes to a not-untidy $514 for you and me.

Drill down into the $270 million, and you discover it includes $50 million in customer rate benefits over three years. In other words, not $514 but around $32 a year, if I understand the math. The new economic dawn begins to dim.

Customers from neighboring markets, we are told, “will fund New Mexico jobs and prosperity.” It’s hard to envision 150 full-time jobs over three years revitalizing the state’s economy.

But it’s not hard to imagine publicly traded Avangrid’s shareholders reaping the benefits of the billions of dollars Avangrid stands to generate for itself as it sells New Mexico’s excess renewable energy to customers out of state.

It’s our land, our sun, our wind. Two hundred seventy million dollars versus billions? For my wallet, I think a fair return would be free electricity for all of New Mexico’s Avangrid customers, for at least the next 10 years. And royalties on all electricity distributed beyond our borders.

Better yet, why don’t we as a state build the renewable power-generating facilities? They would eventually replace our financial reliance on the fossil fuel industry. They would turn rhetoric into the reality of a true new economic and environmental dawn for all New Mexicans.

For once we’d own our birthright. For once we’d keep a dollar instead of a nickel.

Dick Altman has lived in New Mexico since 2005. He was, in the distant past, a consultant to the New York Power Authority, the largest state public power utility in the U.S.

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