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Defending our victories - Avangrid and Hydrogen Keep Coming Back

Yesterday we filed our Answer Brief at the Supreme Court refuting the flimsy arguments made by PNM and Avangrid in their appeal of the PRC's decision to reject their merger proposal, a hard fought victory over the takeover of our energy future by a giant corporate conglomerate.

Tomorrow we are headed to Prewitt and Gallup to oppose the continued efforts by some in our state to prolong the life of the fossil fuel industry by investing public and private dollars into dirty hydrogen produced from so-called "natural" methane gas.

We were successful in blocking public dollars for hydrogen production in the last legislative session, and we won a small victory (thank you!) when the Legislative Finance Interim Committee bowed to public pressure yesterday and added both a webcast and public comment to their agenda tomorrow when they meet with hydrogen industry proponents at the retired Escalante Coal Plant.

When we face adversaries with bottomless pockets every victory must be celebrated, and then defended over and over again.


In January PNM and Avangrid/Iberdrola, Joint Applicants in the 20-00222-UT merger case, appealed the Public Regulation Commission (PRC)’s unanimous decision to reject their proposed merger at the New Mexico Supreme Court. PNM and Avangrid argued in their appeal that the PRC should have ignored the mountain of evidence relied upon by the Commission in making their decision to reject the merger as contrary to the public interest, and that the Supreme Court should instead substitute its own judgment for that of the regulatory commissioners and the Hearing Examiner who advised them. Yesterday New Energy Economy filed its Answer Brief refuting Joint Applicant’s arguments and affirming the methodical decision-making of the Hearing Examiner and the careful review by the PRC Commissioners and their decision to protect the public interest in rejecting the proposed merger.

There was a mountain of evidence presented, included in the 40,000 pages, showing that Avangrid, the company PNM selected to take over their monopoly control of electricity sales to more than 500,000 NM households, has a history of poor performance, including $65 million in fines and penalties in other states where it now operates, cavalier and offensive treatment of its customers, efforts to suppress community and roof-top solar projects, and gross incompetence in its operation of utilities in the Northeast, not to mention the pendency in Spain of a major criminal investigation of owner Iberdrola’s top management for corruption, bribery and falsification of documents, and Avangrid’s flouting of the PRC’s own rules during the course of the hearing.

Just two weeks ago Iberdrola was fined by the Mexican government - $466 million - for failing to abide the regulatory authority and selling energy outside the constraints of their permit. Unfortunately, a pattern has emerged of misconduct and real people suffer as a result of their unfettered greed.

The Joint’ Applicants flimsy legal arguments are untethered from reality, dismissing as hearsay management audits commissioned and carried out by the order of utility commissioners and arguing against the admissibility of the investigation against Avangrid/Iberdrola executives by the Spanish High Court, evidence of numerous violations and penalties imposed by government regulators, and testimony from utility experts, including one who is now serving as a FERC judge.

Their preposterous appellate brief argues essentially that the PRC performed too much due diligence for the benefit of the public, even though that is exactly what the law requires the PRC to do before it can approve an acquisition of New Mexico’s largest utility that will impact the state and ratepayers for many decades to come.

Before one buys a car you check under the hood, you find out if the car has been in an accident and compare cost. That’s the kind of due diligence the PRC conducted when Avangrid/Iberdrola sought to merge with PNM. And what did the PRC find upon close inspection? The potential harms and risks outweighed the promised benefits. New Mexico dodged a bullet when it rejected the merger and we look forward to the Supreme Court's review.

SPEAK UP AGAINST HYDROGEN TOMORROW Thanks to all of you who spoke up for transparency, the Legislative Finance Committee published an advisory that a webcast of the Escalante Coal Plant meeting will now be made available and a short period for public comment has been added to the agenda. We are planning to show up and ensure that the voice of the people, backed by science & economics is present to lift up the truth:

  1. Hydrogen produced from methane gas results in 38% MORE CLIMATE CHANGING EMISSIONS than simply burning the gas directly for heat or power.

  2. An investment of public dollars into dirty hydrogen produced from natural gas will result in stranded assets and losses when green hydrogen, produced from electrolyzing water, becomes cheaper and more abundant within the next decade.

  3. An alternative 100% solar, wind and battery alternative is possible now, and would result in emissions free, cheap and abundant energy, lower electricity rates, the potential for $1B in new revenue for the state, as well as up to 23,500 new jobs in New Mexico.

Who is behind the well-financed hydrogen propaganda machine? The Hydrogen Council, a group established by British Petroleum, Shell and other oil and gas criminals specifically to promote hydrogen because it cleverly masquerades as a climate solution while prolonging the market for their dirty fossil fuel products.

Can you join us Wednesday at 8:30AM for the start of the hearing and a rally outside in Prewitt to show legislators that the people oppose dirty hydrogen? Or at 4:30PM outside the McKinley County Court House Annex in Gallup?

For those unable to join us, the webcast will be shown here.


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