Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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PNM and AVANGRID held a press conference Thursday to discuss the proposed merger and the benefits that it will have for New Mexico. The proposed merger has been left in a precarious position since AVANGRID has been under investigation for perceived inconsistent services in their Northeast facilities.

“We have nothing to hide,” said Pedro Azagra Blazquez, corporate development director of the Iberdrola group out of Spain, which AVANGRID belongs to. Blazquez was quick to point out that a Spanish investigation into the company over criminal activity has found nothing to suggest any wrongdoing by AVANGRID or any of its leaders.

Community leaders from around the state joined Blazquez to speak up about the opportunities the merger will bring to New Mexico. Council of Governors Chairman Willfred Hererra Jr. of the Laguna Pueblo spoke about the council’s optimism. Herrera said that the merger “presents a positive opportunity between tribal nations and the primary electric utility authority in New Mexico.”

The biggest boost that was heralded at the press conference was the capital that the merger would bring to New Mexico and how it would be used to invest in green energy. New Mexico has one of the country’s most ambitious energy goals, as the state hopes to be carbon-neutral by 2035. Terri Cole of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce praised the capital that AVANGRID would bring to help the state meet its green energy goals. Cole also noted that the increase in capital would allow New Mexico to be a leader in green energy in the years to come.

“With over $94 million in customer benefits, a total economic impact of over $300 million and reliability, customer, and governance safeguard this merger is where New Mexico needs to go if it’s going to be a leader in renewable energy and if it is going to help us tackle that last hurdle of carbon emissions- transportation,” Chairman, President and CEO of PNM Resources Pat Vincent-Collawn said.

On the table is $8.3 billion, which is what the merger will cost AVANGRID.

Patrick O’Connell, who serves as a clean energy resource analyst for Western Resource Advocates, a nonprofit environmental law firm focused on protecting the West’s resources, commended the proposed merger as a necessary step to ensure New Mexico’s clean energy future. O’Connell noted that the merger and the resources it would bring to New Mexico would be an opportunity for the state to fight against climate change and continue to invest in renewable energy.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has indicated they will hold a vote on the merger late next week. The PRC Hearing Commissioner has recommended the commission reject the merger deal.