By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer PUBLISHED: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 2:30 pm
Protesters line Silver Ave. in front of PNM\’s Albuquerque headquarters for a rally at the PNM shareholders meeting. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)
PNM Resources’ annual shareholders meeting drew a noisy crowd of protesters Tuesday morning at the company’s offices Downtown, as it has for the last three or four years.
At the meeting, shareholders approved the 2014 compensation package for the company’s top five executives, raising their overall base pay, cash bonuses, stock options and other compensation by a combined 7.4 percent, from $6.97 million in 2013 to $7.49 million. The compensation package for Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM’s chairman, president and CEO, is up by as much as16 percent.
Only a small portion of executive compensation is included in PNM rates, and much of it is tied to future performance.
PNM resources is in good financial shape, with company net earnings up 15 percent in 2014.
“I’m particularly proud of the progress we’ve made in the past year,” Vincent-Collawn said in her address to shareholders. “We’ve made a real difference in the lives of our customers, shareholders, employees and communities where we live and work.”
Outside the building, environmentalists, clean-energy advocates and consumer groups protested the company’s policies, alleging that PNM Resources has prioritized corporate profit at the expense of ratepayers. Protesters criticized Public Service Company of New Mexico’s request for a 12 percent rate increase next year, plus its heavy reliance on fossil-fuel generation and perceived resistance to adding more renewable energy to the grid.
“Many Albuquerque families work really hard to make ends meet, so it’s tough to swallow news that PNM has been pushing higher electricity rates for bigger corporate profits and executive pay,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton in a statement.
Benton helped promote a resolution approved by City Council last month that opposes PNM’s plan to shut down two of the four units at the San Juan Generating Station to meet federal environmental regulations.
Opponents want PNM to replace most of the lost generation with solar and wind rather than nuclear energy and natural gas. And they oppose the utility’s intent to absorb an extra 197 megawatts of coal generation in one of the remaining units to pick up slack for departing plant co-owners.
“PNM needs to move New Mexico forward, not backward, and get more of its energy from renewables,” Environment New Mexico Director Sanders Moore told the Journal.
Vincent-Collawn said it’s understandable the protesters are passionate about San Juan, but PNM must act in the best interests of its customers and shareholders.
“We are doing that in a way that balances reliability, affordability and environmental protection,” she told shareholders.
In addition, the utility will have 15 solar plants operating in New Mexico by year-end. It also increased its wind generation by 50 percent this year. That, combined with other renewables now on the grid, will provide enough renewable electricity to power 150,000 homes in 2016.
Shareholders approved a 16 percent increase in Vincent-Collawn’s total compensation package for 2014, from $2.89 million in 2013 to $3.35 million. That includes $763,000 in base pay, up to $1.505 million in stock options, up to $531,000 in cash bonuses and $555,000 in health and other benefits. Not all stock options and cash bonuses are guaranteed but instead are largely tied to performance.
Overall, the base salaries, stock options and other compensation went up in 2014 for all the company’s top five executives.
But cash bonuses dropped by 14 percent, from a combined $1.3 million in 2013 to $1.12 million. That’s because the company missed targets for customer satisfaction and worker safety rates last year, although it did show significant improvement in both areas.