Avangrid and PNM merger: Regulator accused of ‘bias’ by New Energy Economy

Santa Fe-based New Energy Economy (NEE) has accused two members of the Public Regulatory Commission of being “prejudiced” in a filing to China regarding the planned merger of New Mexico Public Service Company and energy giant Avangrid. According to the petition, Chinese lawyers and lawyers representing Avangrid and its parent company Iberdrola SA participated in illegal “one-sided” communications that improperly influenced Commissioners Gabriel Aguilera and Commissioner James Ellison to support the joint motion. NEE is seeking a “rehearing” and “reconsideration” of the merger action and, if granted, will “immediately move” to disqualifying Aguilera and Ellison.

The Commission released a series of emails exchanged between Chinese and Avangrid lawyers on remanding the merger case, which NEE claims revealed illegal ex-partner communications between attorneys. However, other political parties have not accused the commission of illegal ex-partisan communications. Meanwhile, Avangrid and PNM say the NEE accusations are part of an ongoing effort to “disrespect” them and the Commission.

Former China attorney Sidney Beadles, now New Mexico’s clean energy manager at Western Resources Advocate, said the email exchanges were part of the coordination of China attorneys to maintain impartiality in the commission. China spokesman Patrick J. Rodriguez said the commission takes its ethical obligations seriously. As a Supreme Court appellant, Rodriguez told the Journal, “The committee may communicate with other parties about litigation matters, including allegations, in the same manner as other parties.”

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