First, today we want to celebrate a victory. HB 142 passed Senate Finance this morning on a 8-0 vote! Thanks to Senator Pinto and Representative Allison, who reminded us: "The purpose of this bill: Prevention! The analysis and cleanup plan required in this bill will ensure that toxic metal contaminants don’t leach into the ground and leak into waterways or otherwise harm the public, animals or agriculture and cause negative public health consequences for the people of San Juan County and beyond. If we fail to act very serious injury to their health, land and water is foreseeable." Also thanks to all the supporters and commenters, especially Chili Yazzie who was extremely powerful and reminded us that "we cannot contaminate the Earth we borrow from our children." Senator Munoz too spoke thoughtfully about the corporate accountability that should be incorporated into future legislation. He pointed out "The company made money off the San Juan Generating Station, they made profits, their shareholders should take care of the leftover waste... I live in Gallup, I understand. I go to Hogback and you can still walk in a uranium mine and get yellow cake. We have to make sure there is corporate responsibility here. So what comes out of this analysis should be a requirement that wasn't included in the ETA, but we have to tighten that up to make the company fiscally responsible."
We will look forward next to passage on the Senate floor and the Governor's signature to protect the people, the water and the earth we borrow from our children.
AND A CREATIVE WRITING ASSIGNMENT...
You all know that PNM and Avangrid and the new PRC filed a joint motion requesting to dismiss the PNM Avangrid appeal. New Energy Economy is in the process of writing a response to the motion. In the meantime, we encourage you to express your own concerns about the process and the merger.
Perhaps take inspiration from the scathing Milan Simonich article in the Santa Fe New Mexican this morning, in which he called out the PRC for joining in PNM and Avangrid's motion to remand the decision back to the Commission:
"The fact that the PRC joined in the motion for reconsideration calls into question its motivation. Why are utility regulators party to a court motion with one company they oversee and another that wants to establish a western base in New Mexico?"
Some facts and figures to inform your email:
Due process: The public's rights to substantive due process should include: the right to discovery, the requirement that PNM/Avangrid/Iberdrola has the burden of proving that their merger is in the public interest and that they must put forward sworn testimony to that effect, that there is a right to challenge those claims pursuant to cross-examination, that others are allowed to refute those assertions with their own witnesses and that a hearing must be held to include argument via briefing and a written determination by the Commission.
Recent news: Avangrid’s and PNM’s effort to expedite their merger seems calculated to set up a procedure to avoid the extensive additional evidence that has come to light and events that have occurred since the first 2021 hearing, including the following:
a. Avangrid has been fined $446 million by the Mexican government’s regulatory authority for intentional violation of regulatory restrictions;
b. Avangrid has been fined $4.5 million by the state utility regulators of Connecticut for willfully violating a ban on collection efforts during the Covid crisis by garnishing the wages of customers who had been unable to pay their bills, resulting in fines of $10,000 per infraction. Avangrid violated the Authority’s orders at least 204 times.
c. Massachusetts Senate leader calls for banning Avangrid from future power because it terminated its current offshore 20-year power purchase wind contract. Sen. Michael Rodrigues of Westport, the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said Avangrid shouldn’t be allowed to simply pay the $28 to $48 million penalty and bid on future projects. “I firmly believe that any company that non-performs on an existing contract should be deemed disqualified and be barred from bidding on any future projects in the state,” Rodrigues wrote. “When companies do not act in good faith, they should be stricken from future bids, plain and simple.” The Avangrid failure has the potential to undermine the state’s climate change strategy.
d. How has Avangrid performed in New York? “State lawmakers from the Rochester area, Senator Samra Brouk, Assemblymember Sarah Clark and Assemblymember Demond Meeks, claim Avangrid, the parent company of RG&E, has proved it is unable to invest properly in infrastructure following large storms in 2017 and 2018. Avangrid was fined millions by the state for its response to those storms. “Ratepayers are suffering at the hands of RG&E and their billing practices,” said Sen. Brouk. “And now thinking about a rate hike for RG&E is really unconscionable at a time when ratepayers are continuing to suffer and people are continuing to try to put food on the table, get sneakers for their kids for school and now to be faced with exorbitant potential rate hikes is really unacceptable.”