We are filing motions, testimony, and responses almost every day between the PNM Avangrid merger, the Four Corners Abandonment Application, PNM's decoupling application and the Palo Verde abandonment case! Unsurprisingly, PNM views us as their chief adversary - a badge of honor. Of all the 23 parties in the merger case, they moved to strike our testimony alone. Here are some updates:
Motion for Sanctions - PNM Avangrid Merger
On May 27th we filed a Motion to Sanction PNM and Avangrid for their failure to respond to discovery with fullsome and accurate information and their designation of "confidential" on the majority of discovery responses to prevent the disclosure of unflattering information to the public. On January 11th we asked Avangrid to disclose any violations or fines levied against the company or its subsidiaries and we got back two pages with a short list of minor violations, but when the Hearing Examiner asked for the same information on May 11th, Avangrid submitted nearly 2500 pages in response.
Had Avangrid disclosed the extent of the findings against them in January, not only would we and others have been able to respond in our testimony, but there is a potential that some parties to the stipulated settlement might have had second thoughts. The failure to disclose this information speaks directly to the credibility, or lack thereof, of Avangrid's witnesses. NEE should not have to chase down these answers, and the PRC shouldn’t be forced into arbitrating over clearly relevant material that the public deserves to know about, especially in a case that, if approved, will have long-lasting implication for New Mexicans.
Motion to Compel - Four Corners Abandonment and PNM Avangrid Merger
On June 4th we filed a Motion to Compel Discovery Regarding Four Corners Power Plant. In the PNM Avangrid merger case the Joint Applicants continue to try to maintain the fiction that the merger and the abandonment of Four Corners are unrelated so that they can continue to present the merger as a benefit to the public. Evidence from the case blows this fiction wide open - the abandonment, sale and demand for securitized financing for FCPP was and is a precondition of the merger. In fact the merger agreement states:
PNM, shall (a) enter into definitive agreements providing for exit from all ownership interests in the Four Corners Power Plant ... and (b) make all applicable regulatory filings and take all commercially reasonable actions in order to obtain required approvals from applicable Governmental Entities, all with the objective of having the closing date for such exit to occur as promptly as practicable but in any event no later than December 31, 2024.) p. 68, § 6.19.
Avangrid/Iberdrola’s hypocritical requirement is not that PNM close the plant, but that it only “divest” itself of the plant so that, as Avangrid/Iberdrola candidly admits, Avangrid/Iberdrola will not be tarred by the ownership of a coal plant. In fact the abandonment application as filed requires PNM to keep the plant running until at least 2027. Without a resolution to Four Corners, no quantifiable assessment of the merger can actually be made and therefore the public interest cannot be evaluated. Our motion requests the Hearing Examiner order that discovery regarding the Four Corners Power Plant abandonment is relevant and to compel a response. Bernalillo County, the Albuquerque Water Authority, the Sierra Club and PRC Staff attorneys supported our motion.
Joint Motion for Joinder of Iberdrola - PNM Avangrid (and Iberdrola!) Merger
On May 24th Bernalillo County and Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority filed a joint motion to ask that Iberdrola, the parent company of Avangrid, be added as a party in this proceeding. In our reply to the motion, filed June 7th, we contend that Iberdrola, as Avangrid’s parent, is able to exercise a significant degree of control and influence over the actions of Avangrid, including its compliance with New Mexico law and the terms of any merger agreement. In fact Iberdrola initiated the merger, dictated the terms of the merger and hired the Attorney General's friend, Marcus Rael, to lobby for the merger in NM.
The Hearing Examiner's order granting this motion, effectively adding Iberdrola as a party in the case as of June 8th, quoted our filing: "Iberdrola is like the puppeteer and Avangrid is the puppet." The Hearing Examiner's order is significant because PNM and Avangrid have used Iberdrola's absence from the case to evade discovery questions, and because in Maine Iberdrola used their absence from the local utility agreement to argue that they were not liable for injury to customers or subject to commission jurisdiction.