Tuesday’s meeting of the Public Regulation Commission saw the first rumblings of trouble with PNM’s acquisition by energy giant Avangrid. PRC hearing examiner Ashley Schannauer communicated his concern for the merger by highlighting nearly $25 million in fines for Avangrid over the past 16 months from other states regarding customer service issues and other problems. Schannauer discussed the issues surrounding Avangrid’s fines imposed by other northern states the utility serves and raised concern that they were not settled before moving forward the PNM’s acquisition. Schannauer told conference participants “It’s clearly relevant. Will there be similar problems in New Mexico if this merger is approved? That’s $25 million in penalties and disallowances for poor service.”
Further digging into the issues surrounding Avangrid turned up additional fines that indicate the precarious future of the state’s largest electricity producer. These include a $10.5 million settlement between two Avangrid subsidiaries that determined the subsidiaries failed to comply with state-mandated emergency response plans during two storms that hit the Northeast in March 2018, and a $10 million fine for mishandling of its billing system and customer service at a different subsidiary in Maine. Schannauer said he would order Avangrid and PNMR to address the Northeastern utility issues in a written filing, followed by written responses on those matters from other parties in the merger case, before overseeing another status conference to decide on how to proceed with public hearings. “Am I the only one troubled by this?” Schannauer asked the participating parties. Click HERE to read more.