As we reported last week, on March 23rd New Energy Economy filed its response to the exceptional request made by PNM/Avangrid and the newly appointed PRC to the New Mexico Supreme Court to approve the dismissal of the PNM/Avangrid appeal and to remand the dismissed case back to the PRC for a remand and “rehearing” according to an expedited timeline set by the companies. Then, on March 30th New Energy Economy was contacted by Dr. Corneliu Dică, a Romanian business person who had an agreement with Iberdrola (the parent company of Avangrid) to install wind power in Romania that ended with Iberdrola breaching its contract and cheating him, and his business, Eólica Dobrogea. Dr. Dică has been named as a designated “aggrieved party” in the pending case in Spain regarding the criminal activities alleged to have been committed by representative of, or persons hired by, Iberdrola, and its subsidiary, Iberdrola Renovables, S.A. Yesterday we filed a Motion for Supplemental Response at the Supreme Court to introduce this new evidence.
As detailed in our affidavit, in December, 2019 following the arrest of former Spanish Secret police ex police Commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, Dr. Dică came to learn that Iberdrola/Iberdrola Renovables, S.A. ordered illegal espionage activities carried out by CENYT (and Mr.Villarejo personally) against him and his company, Eólica Dobrogea, in Romania during 2011 and 2012. CENYT prepared 3 reports for the Board of Iberdrola recommending a course of action to deal with Dr. Dică, including his “liquidation.” Iberdrola Renovables S.A. duly paid CENYT handsomely for each report CENYT produced.
CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AGAINST IBERDROLA EXECUTIVES EXTENDED DUE TO NEW EVIDENCE
An Avangrid lobbyist recently authored an op-ed in the Santa Fe New Mexican (Avangrid speaks out on its record) disparaging the former PRC’s decision to reject the PNM Avangrid merger and calling into question its decision to give important weight to the fact that Iberdrola’s executives, who would be the de-facto executives in control of our utility under the terms of the merger, were under investigation for criminal wrongdoing in Spain. The op-ed states “The Spanish court conducted an investigation on several Spanish companies, including a non-regulated entity. That investigation (which never included Iberdrola) was dismissed last July without any further action or findings with respect to Iberdrola affiliates, current employees and executives.”
In fact the investigation had been suspended due to a statute of limitations rule, and on March 28th the judge overseeing the case extended the investigation until 7/29/2023 based on the discovery of new evidence, including audio recordings.
PNM AVANGRID MERGER CENTRAL TO IBERDROLA BUSINESS PLANS AND CEO LEADERSHIP VOTE
Though we originally surmised that the expedited timeline sought by PNM and Avangrid was related to the deadline set in their merger contract, an article published by msn.com on March 14th reported that Iberdrola President Ignacio Sánchez Galán faces a vote of shareholders at an April 28th meeting to retain his position as Chairman of Iberdrola. The article also states that “[o]ne of the main objectives for Sánchez Galán is to close the purchase of the American company PNM Resources, an operation that the energy company expects to be unblocked in the coming months.” Another article published March 23rd notes that in the last year since the PNM Avangrid merger was rejected, Avangrid has raised its political contributions in the United States by more than 10 times, to $589,000. These reports explain the unnecessary rush to expedite our legal process, and perhaps Galán’s confidence, as of March 14, 2023, that the “blockage” of the merger would be shortly removed.
OPEN MEETINGS ACT VIOLATIONS BY PRC
Our Motion also presents the argument that the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s agreement to a “rehearing” of its decision denying PNM Avangrid merger, violated, as a matter of law, New Mexico’s Open Meetings Act and the PRC’s own regulations. The PRC’s decision that it would rehear the merger case was arrived at outside of a public meeting, whether it was during the course of the five “executive closed sessions,” on 2/2/2023, 2/17/2023 (twice on that date), 2/21/2023, or 2/27/2023, shortly after the new PRC took office, over the phone, or in some other fashion. However it was arranged, it is undisputed that the decision to reconsider the case did not occur in a public meeting, as required by the Open Meetings Act. The first notice any of the other parties or the public had of the PRC’s decisions was when Movants filed their Motion for Dismissal at the Supreme Court. NMSA 1978, Section 10-15-3 provides that no action of any commission or other policy-making body shall be valid unless it is taken or made at a meeting held in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. None of the attorney client privilege exceptions invoked by the PRC in their notice of closed meetings apply to actions or votes or decisions taken by the Commission.
There is a great deal of information that Dr. Dică is willing to share with the PRC regarding Iberdrola’s conduct, including a pattern of criminal and civil misconduct exposed in the Spanish court’s investigation of the Villarejo case to carry out illegal investigations on Iberdrola’s competitors, a judge, politicians, ecologists and trade unionists aimed at unblocking lucrative projects for Iberdrola and silencing their critics. Just two weeks ago a judge threw out a defamation case Iberdrola filed against a media outlet that has been reporting on the investigation of its executives.
Our motion calls on the Supreme Court to deny the PNM/Avangrid motion for dismissal and remand of the merger application for all the reasons detailed in our original Response and the Open Meetings Act violations detailed in today’s Motion, and, barring that denial, to enter an order granting dismissal pursuant to Rule 12-401(B)(2) NMRA without conditions, which would leave the PRC free to reopen the merger case with due process protections for all parties and a proper evidentiary proceeding because new evidence has come to light.
We are deeply concerned that the PRC, in violation of important legal protections that are meant to ensure transparency and accountability to the public, has played into the hands of a multi-billion dollar corporation that continues to operate under the leadership of executives credibly accused of criminal actions meant to stifle competition and silence critics. If the Supreme Court does choose to dismiss the appeal, the people of New Mexico deserve an open and transparent investigation and hearing of all the new and damaging evidence that has come to light.