On Wednesday, the wind energy company AVANGRID announced it would be acquiring PNM Resources, New Mexico’s largest utility. AVANGRID is the third-largest wind utility company in the U.S. The Spanish Iberdrola, S.A owns the company.
Some groups are blasting the utility’s acquisition of PNM, saying AVANDRID is an “eco-company based thousands of miles away that doesn’t seem to care about our energy workers,” as Larry Behrens of Power the Future noted.
“We are excited to be part of this transaction that provides so many benefits to our customers, communities, employees and shareholders,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, chairman, president and CEO of PNM Resources. “Our combined companies provide greater opportunities to invest in the infrastructure and new technologies that will help us navigate our transition to clean energy while maintaining our commitments to our local teams and communities.”
But the move comes after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and New Mexico Democrats took thousands of dollars from the out-of-state conglomerate, with its U.S.-based headquarters in Orange, CT. According to public records on the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website, the company donated $1,000 in October to the New Mexico House Democratic Campaign Committee and directly after the 2018 election, it donated $2,500 to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign.
According to AVANGRID’s press release about the PNM deal, “AVANGRID currently owns 1,900 MW of renewable energy and a pipeline of 1,400 MW of renewables assets in New Mexico and Texas. In addition, Iberdrola operates a retail business in Texas. For more than 15 years, Iberdrola has also funded the King Felipe VI Chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico.”
The company also noted in its press release their plan to withdraw from the San Juan Generating Station near Farmington. “The closure of the generating station will destroy hundreds of jobs and cause revenue losses for New Mexico communities,” notes Power the Future.
The organization previously noted AVANGRID’s involvement in New Mexico politics in May, raising questions about its donations to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
In 2019, Grisham also took a vacation to Gran Canaria, an island in Las Palma Spain, according to documents obtained through an Inspection of Public Records Act request, showing the Governor had Lt. Gov. Howie Morales serve as acting-Governor while she was out of the country. Iberdrola has multiple service points and locations on the Gran Canaria island.
It is unclear why anyone lobbied the governor by financing the trip or how much New Mexicans paid for her non-publicized private trip abroad. However, the New Mexico taxpayers paid for her security while she was in Spain.
It is also unclear if there were any joiners on the trip other than her staff and security agents. Could the Governor’s close friend and former business partner New Mexico Rep. Debbie Armstrong have joined the trip as well?
The documents obtained through the IPRA show receipts from Madrid and Gran Canaria, the pay stub to Lt. Gov Morales, showing he was acting in Luajn Grusham’s stead, as well as the Governor’s calendar showing she was gone through
In 2015, PNM opened a wind farm in Cibola County, which appears to be the wind farm Gov. Lujan Grisham shot her 2018 “Turbine” ad, where she touted her “green energy” proposals while running for governor. AVANGRID has a wind farm called “El Cabo” in Torrence County.
In 2019, NPR noted wind energy’s issue with turbine blades going to the landfill, negating the supposed “green” value of the energy source. Millions of birds and bats also face their demise each year due to the turbines.