Albuquerque Journal

With 3 strikes already, will new PRC work?


First the new and improved Public Regulation Commission saw the chairman of its nominating committee resign after it was determined there was probable cause he broke state law appointing himself to the panel.

Then one of the commission­ers recommende­d by that committee and ultimately chosen by the governor didn’t have the education required, so he resigned the day before his first public meeting and was replaced.

Now another of the original three appointees has recused himself from any decisions involving the undisputed biggest issue on the PRC’s plate, the proposed $8 billion merger between a U.S. subsidiary of global energy giant Iberdrola and Public Service Company of New Mexico, the state’s largest electric utility. The merger has been in the works since at least 2020. The former five-member elected PRC rejected the merger, and that is on appeal in the Supreme Court.

So any potential conflict of interest should not have been news to the committee or Commission­er Patrick O’Connell, who testified on behalf of a proposed settlement related to the merger while working for an environmen­tal group.

While we applaud O’Connell’s forthright­ness and decision to recuse, it means if the issue comes back to the PRC, the deal affecting 800,000 electric customers here and in West Texas comes down to Commission­ers Gabriel Aguilera and James Ellison Jr. What if they disagree? Who breaks the tie?

We don’t want to call the new PRC “out” so early in its first season, but three strikes raise real questions.

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