Hearings on the proposed merger between Public Service Company of New Mexico, the state's largest utility, and Avangrid, the utility arm of Spanish multinational energy company Iberdrola, began this week before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission without representation by Iberdrola's original attorney in the proceeding.

NMPRC Hearing Examiner Ashley Schannauer on Aug. 6 issued an order disqualifying Albuquerque lawyer Marcus Rael from representing Iberdrola in the case. Schannauer in the order cited a conflict of interest for Rael, who represented Iberdrola while also holding a series of meetings with the state’s attorney general, Hector Balderas. Balderas flipped his position on the deal after agreeing to a stipulation that would bring new environmental benefits and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic investment to the state, while also requiring that PNM continue to be led by a board of majority-local directors (see CEM No 1638).

Marcus Rael 0813

Albuquerque Attorney Marcus Rael.

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Associate Editor - California Energy Markets

Abigail Sawyer grew up in northwestern New Mexico near two massive coal-fired power plants. She spent many hours gazing out the car window at transmission lines on family road trips across the Southwest and now reports on the region from San Francisco.