Potential PNM-Avangrid Merger: Pros & Cons
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PNM serves a large portion of New Mexico. However, it isn’t the largest fish in the pond. Because of its small size, PNM has struggled to get the financial backing necessary to add renewable infrastructure. The utility claims that its desire to invest in New Mexico’s renewable energy resources has resulted in its search for a partner.
PNM struck a deal and submitted its proposal to merge with Avangrid in October of 2020. However, New Mexico has found some red flags with the merger and Avangrid. The Public Regulations Commission (PRC) has requested further documentation and scheduled Zoom hearings on August 9th and August 11-20.
Opinions on the Avangrid Merger
PNM has construed the merger as a means to obtaining and implementing more renewable resources for its customers. However, some feel that this isn’t the real reason behind the merger.
One expert witness in the proceedings, Scott Hempling, said, “No one gathered or presented serious information, conducted serious analyses or made any serious plan about improving PNM’s performance. Customer benefits were beside the point.”
Skeptics have pointed out that the merger documents focus more on the benefit of the deal to the shareholders than it does on utility customers. The fact that Avangrid doesn’t have a great customer service track record also isn’t promising.
However, the PNM Resources Board, PNM’s parent company, maintains that the merger will allow PNM to gain resources at better rates. Lower costs for the utility, they argue, would result in decreased customer rates.
How New Mexico’s PRC Strives to Protect PNM Customers
The New Mexico PRC regulates utilities, transportation, and telecommunication industries. During the hearings in August, they will determine if the merger between Avangrid will proceed.
The hearing tentatively set for August 9th is a public comment hearing. The hearings scheduled from August 11th to the 20th are evidentiary.
The New Mexico PRC has made it clear that they value the public interest of this merger by requesting additional documentation from Avangrid regarding recent penalties and fines other states have issued for unreliable and costly electric service. The PRC officer examiner has asked stakeholders to review the 2,600 pages of documents Avangrid submitted regarding these penalties and cost disallowances.
What the Avangrid Merger Would Mean for Residential Solar in New Mexico
Whether this merger results in higher customer rates for electricity or even will happen, is uncertain. However, regardless of the merger outcome, residential solar and battery backup can provide homeowners with security against potential rate hikes.
Customers who install solar now can benefit from the current PNM solar generation rates before changes take place. Additionally, those who also install battery backup can store excess solar generation. Collecting solar power with solar batteries allows the homeowner to control the cost of their nightly and emergency power needs.
Go Solar Group Battery Backup Levels
Those interested in covering their assets know adding battery backup is worth the investment. However, how much battery backup you need varies from one homeowner to the next. With Go Solar Group’s battery backup options, customers can customize their storage to the needs of their homes.