The PNM/Avangrid merger hearing has concluded. We worked hard to educate the public about the critical issues, we dug deep during discovery to expose the truth, we had a great witness in Christopher Sandberg - a chorus of attorneys praised his positions and his performance under oath, we exposed Avangrid and Iberdrola's corruption, horrible track record, and their greed, and yet given the political and financial power backing the merger, there is every possibility that the merger will be allowed to proceed.
Through the course of the hearing all of our worst fears were affirmed - we heard nothing to allay our concerns about critical issues that we’ve named:
Ratepayer benefits will be outweighed by the $300M in cost recovery for Four Corners abandonment, cost recovery for imprudent expenditures that ratepayers should not have to bear.
Any alleged environmental benefits will be outweighed by the coal that will continue to burn at Four Corners Power Plant till at least 2031 as a result of the merger, and the inclusion too of a carbon credit market as part of the stipulation can lead only to an emissions shell game to protect corporations from real regulation while the earth continues to burn.
Nothing will safeguard the earth and ratepayers from Iberdrola's profit motive - not an independent board, not independent evaluators, and soon not even an elected commission.
We’re alarmed that this corporate domination of our most basic, essential infrastructure is being normalized, and that there hasn’t been more outrage about the naked corruption and political machinations exposed in this case. Here in New Mexico we’ve already seen the overwhelming influence of PNM on our political system, and there are indication's that Iberdrola’s penchant for undue influence is already at play in NM.
Perhaps most appropriately, the hearing concluded with Commissioner Joe Maestas asking Avangrid President Robert Kump if the company will commit to disclosing dark money contributions to PACs in New Mexico - a request for transparency that Mr. Kump declined.
If the merger is allowed to proceed, Avangrid and Iberdrola will come here with more than 100 times the money that PNM has at their disposal, and any chance for economic and environmental justice for the people will become that much more difficult to achieve.
We have an alternative now - people power - Public Power. It has already been proven cheaper and greener than corporate power. The only thing we lack is leaders with the imagination and political will to insist on it.