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Proposed Utility Merger Generates Wariness in New Mexico


Monday, September 27, 2021   

SANTA FE, N.M. - A decision over a proposed utility merger in New Mexico is expected before year's end, but opponents warn approval could spell trouble for electric customers down the road.

Utility Public Service Company of New Mexico says it can provide the state with more renewable energy by merging with Avangrid, a Connecticut-based subsidiary of an international energy conglomerate in Spain. Some don't believe that, including Maine state Rep. Seth Berry - D-Bowdoinham.

"I can tell New Mexico definitively," said Berry, "Avangrid doesn't care about New Mexicans or the environment anymore than the wolf cares about Little Red Riding Hood."

If the multi-billion-dollar deal is approved, Avangrid would get more than a half million New Mexico customers, and its access to PNM would help the company to fulfill its goal of exporting power to other markets, such as Mexico and California.

Rebeca Jasso-Aguilar, a visiting scholar at the University of New Mexico, has studied privatization of utilities. She's raised concerns about energy reliability and rates, as well as Avangrid's questionable track record.

"I know the work of this company in Mexico," said Jasso-Aguilar. "And I know of the work of this company in Latin America. I know its reputation - and I wouldn't want that happening in New Mexico."

New Mexico is among the top three states for solar power potential, and the Biden administration aims to reach 45% solar energy nationwide by 2050. Berry noted that Avangrid has resisted offering Maine residents and businesses rooftop and community solar at every turn.

"They have been the number one obstacle to creative, innovative, local grid solutions," said Berry, "and to making the grid of the future that we all need."

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