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Fears Raised Over Merger Between Avangrid, NM Utility Provider

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Monday, July 12, 2021   

SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico's Public Service Company (PNM) said it can provide the state with more renewable energy by merging with Avangrid, a Connecticut-based subsidiary of an international energy conglomerate in Spain, but some are not convinced.

Residents of Maine, who have been through a merger takeover by Avangrid, are warning about the power outages and rising costs they experienced.

The public is set to weigh in during hearings next month on the proposed merger between PNM and Avangrid.

William Dunn, a utility consultant in Maine, said outages force him to rely on a generator at least four times a year.

"As we've seen here in Maine, since our local utilities have been taken over by others, service has gone down, both in terms of reliability and customer satisfaction, and costs have gone up," Dunn explained.

Public comment on the merger is scheduled via Zoom on August 9 before New Mexico's Public Regulation Commission, and the hearing involving expert testimony will continue August 11-20.

PNM said the merger could maximize use of the state's renewable-energy sources, such as solar and wind.

A recent survey by the group Electrical Construction & Maintenance showed Maine has the most frequent power outages in the U.S.

Sophie Gaulkin, an energy activist in Maine, was only seven years old when Avangrid's power supply failed one winter, causing her home's sump pump to fail. Now 25, Gaulkin said she has never forgotten watching her widowed mother haul buckets of water from the basement for eight hours to protect her home and children.

"Quite frankly, I think they really don't care about what anyone wants or what happens to them," Gaulkin contended. "I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemies, and especially the good people of New Mexico."

Dunn noted it is concerning to think New Mexico residents could experience what he and his neighbors in Maine have endured if Avangrid gains a foothold in the state.

"If what happened here happens there, with the goal to funnel as much money to Avangrid, that they will make investments where they earn the most money, not necessarily where it provides the best customer service," Dunn asserted.

Despite touting renewable energy, data show Avangrid and its parent company, Spain's Iberdrola, generate significantly more gas and nuclear power than renewables.


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