Maine lawmaker says NM should be wary of Avangrid, others welcome the merger

Business

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – You’ve seen the commercials pushing for the Avangrid/PNM merger. However, customers in other cities Avangrid operates in warn, Avangrid has been a disaster there. Lawmakers in Maine said Avangrid similarly bought a small-local company there 17 years ago resulting in outages in the nation according to MRO Electric, bad reliability and more. Meanwhile, proponents for the merger said this is the right company to create more renewable energy in our state.

High bills, record-breaking outages and the worst customer service. That is what Maine Representative Seth Berry said customers have been dealt in his state since Avangrid took hold. “I can’t say enough how damaging they have been to our energy future in Maine,” Berry said.

Avangrid is a renewable energy giant that Berry said bought Central Maine Power, a small Maine-based company, years ago. He said it has been disastrous. For example, The Portland Press Herald reports CMP customers are seeing a double-digit rate increase starting Wednesday. Maine Public reports in 2020, CMP ranked last in the nation for overall customer satisfaction for the third straight year in JD Power’s study. “We did not receive the warning,” Berry said. “That is why I feel so committed to making sure others are aware.”

Now, Avangrid is hoping to merge with PNM. If the multi-billion-dollar deal is approved, Avangrid would get more than 500,000 customers along with access to transmission lines and other infrastructure. People for the merger said it will create 150 high-paying technology jobs in New Mexico and diversify the economy.

Sherman McCorkle of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce believes Avangrid has more capital resources to modernize the grid quicker than PNM. “To create renewable energy, it costs money,” McCorkle said. “You must have a deep pocket to do it on a large scale. This provides a deep pocket to create renewable energy in New Mexico.”

Attorney General Hector Balderas once opposed the merger over concerns there was no benefit to customers and seeing utility profits leaving the state. Balderas now supports the merger. KRQE News 13 asked if Avangrid’s track record in other states is a concern. “A greater concern to me is not customer complaints, but the fact that we have an antiquated energy system,” Balderas said.

People in Maine who experienced Avangrid up close are unmoved. “I am advising the people of NM, regulators, to say no,” Berry said.

Proponents said they have looked critically at what occurred in Maine. They believe that is a ‘one-off’, and are satisfied with Avangrid’s record in other municipalities. News 13 reached out to Avangrid for comment but did not hear back. Balderas said the hearing officer on the case may make a recommendation to the PRC by year-end, and then they would vote.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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