PNM and AVANGRID merger closer to fruition

Last week, the Hearing Examiner for the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) set the remaining procedural schedule on the amended stipulation in the application for merger of Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and its parent company, PNM Resources, Inc., with AVANGRID.

The schedule, set for August 11 – 20, 2021, comes after AVANGRID submitted materials that addressed regulatory issues for its northeastern regional utility subsidiaries on service quality standards, including details on routine reviews and management audits that are typical for investor-owned utilities in those jurisdictions.

AVANGRID said that the filing demonstrated that its utilities’ storm preparedness and response compares favorably to other utilities in the region.

The customer benefits in the stipulation include:

  • $50 million in customer rate credits over three years;
  • $6 million in COVID arrearages relief for customers;
  • $15 million for low-income customer energy-efficiency assistance; and
  • $2 million to bring electricity to low-income, remote customers.

The stipulation includes additional economic development for New Mexico:

  • 150 new full-time jobs over three years that will remain no less than five years thereafter;
  • $7.5 million in additional economic development funds;
  • $12.5 million in economic development contributions to community groups in the Four Corners region over five years ($2.5 million/year);
  • Improvements to the energy transition displaced worker assistance fund relating to the closure of the San Juan Generating Station; and
  • Free access to streetlighting poles for local governments for wireless internet access for three years.

Parties supporting the amended stipulated agreement include: the Attorney General of the State of New Mexico, Western Resource Advocates, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 611, Dine Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, Nava Education Project, San Juan Citizens Alliance, To Nizhoni Ani, the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, Interwest Energy Alliance, Walmart, Inc., Onward Energy Holdings, LLC, M-S-R Power and Los Alamos County.

To date, AVANGRID has received six governmental approvals for the merger. Five federal agencies and the Public Utility Commission of Texas have already completed their reviews and approved the proposed merger, leaving the NMPRC as the only remaining approval necessary for the merger. The original application before the NMPRC was filed in November 2020.

 “We are pleased that the Hearing Examiner has chosen to move forward towards an evidentiary hearing on the amended stipulation which includes 13 parties on our merger application,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, chairman, president, and CEO PNM Resources. “This merger has already received approvals from federal agencies and the Texas Public Utility Commission, and we look forward to making the case for moving PNM and New Mexico forward with AVANGRID’s expertise and financial backing along with their commitments to customers and communities.”

“We are very pleased with the hearing examiner’s decision to allow the stipulated agreement to be heard,” said Dennis V. Arriola, CEO of AVANGRID. “The support of so many entities from New Mexico as well as individuals is encouraging. We continue to listen to stakeholders and we hope additional parties will sign on to the stipulation in support of the merger.”

Additional materials pertaining to the NMPRC application for approval of the merger and the amended stipulation are available here.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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