Iberdrola, a Spanish company with more than $ 136 billion in assets, has offered its subsidiary Avangrid to acquire 100 percent of the shares of Public Service Company of New Mexico. The proposal requires approval from the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission.
Avangrid owns seven other utilities in the United States, including Central Maine Power. In 2016, Central Maine Power secured a reduction in solar “net meter” requirements that would have decimated the rooftop solar industry in that state. (Maine reversed this flashback in 2019.)
Although Iberdrola / Avangrid owns a considerable capacity of renewable energy assets (mainly wind and solar power generation facilities), these are large-scale, large-scale, far customers, who require long and expensive transmission facilities (also owned by Iberdrola / Avangrid) to transport this electricity.
Iberdrola / Avangrid reported that after its acquisition of PNM, it plans to build additional large-scale renewable power generation facilities – wind turbines and solar – in New Mexico and increase transmission lines to carry this electricity from its generation facilities to customers, including outside New Mexico. Mexico.
While additional renewable energy facilities are needed in New Mexico to replace old, expensive and heavily polluting old coal and nuclear facilities, New Mexico law and regulations require utilities such as PNM to do so. buy electricity from generators based on criteria such as reliability and cost to customers, and not simply because the generator is owned by an affiliated party.
The Iberdrola / Avangrid acquisition proposal must also include guarantees for the local industry of distributed energy resources, including rooftop charging stations and electric vehicles installed at customers and community solar energy providers. . To date, the distributed power industry has built approximately 200 megawatts of solar power generation facilities at customer premises in New Mexico, providing clean, low-cost solar electric power directly to customers. customers and network, thus avoiding the cost of building a similar amount. large-scale remote installations and reducing transmission requirements.
The distributed energy industry in New Mexico currently provides direct employment to approximately 2,000 New Mexican families and generates nearly $ 100 million per year in local income. The industry is poised for further growth, based primarily on New Mexico law and regulations that require utilities to provide customers with “net metering” (customers with rooftop solar panels may reduce their cost of electricity by the amount of electricity produced in their premises).
The PRC should not allow Iberdrola / Avangrid to reduce these benefits, as has been done in Maine. Iberdrola / Avangrid’s proposal to take over PNM must include protections for the local distributed energy industry, including protection and expansion of customer ‘net metering’ benefits, and enable ” interconnection of rooftop solar installations and electric vehicle charging stations at no prohibitive cost.
Ron Flax-Davidson is a member of the board of directors of Positive Energy Solar, Inc., a provider of distributed energy resources, including rooftop and residential solar power. He is a resident of Santa Fe.